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Two die when car strikes moped in Tampa, troopers say

TAMPA — Two passengers on a moped were killed and its driver was seriously injured late Sunday after a motorist with a suspended license slammed into the back of the bike and then fled, according to state troopers and records.

The driver of the car, Amanda Angelica Diaz, 23, of Tampa was later found at her home and taken back to the crash scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Troopers said she had not seen the moped, and, as of Monday, she had not been charged in the crash.

The crash happened about 11:30 p.m. Sunday when Cameron Maddox, 19, was carrying two friends on the back of the moped on northbound Dale Mabry Highway.

At the trio approached the intersection of Busch Boulevard, a 2010 Hyundai Accent came from behind. Its driver — Diaz — struck it, troopers said.

All three people on the bike were thrown onto the road, troopers said. One, a young woman, fell into an adjacent lane and was run over by a Kia Optima that had been traveling alongside the Accent.

The woman, whom authorities had not yet identified, died at the scene.

A second rider, 16-year-old Michael Garcia of Tampa, was taken with Maddox to St. Joseph's Hospital.

Maddox remained hospitalized Monday with serious injuries, authorities said. Garcia was pronounced dead at the hospital.

"He was just kind of being a teenager," Edward Garcia, 19, said of his younger brother.

The teen had been attending Leto High School's adult education program. He was working to obtain his GED certificate. Once done with high school, Garcia wanted to pursue music. He wrote rap songs and practiced every day to perfect the art. He had produced his own hip-hop records, which he shared with his brother.

"He was a talented kid. He was a rising star," Edward Garcia said. "He was trying to grow up. Maybe a little too fast, I would say."

The two brothers lived with their parents in a modest Northdale area home. In the past year, they had become closer than ever before, Edward said. The older Garcia would take his brother out to eat. When his younger brother needed a ride, he'd give him one.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't present when he needed a ride last night," he said Monday.

He said he didn't know the two other people his brother was riding with when he died.

A state law pointed out by the patrol allows a moped operator to carry a passenger if the bike is "designed to carry more than one person" with a regular seat that accommodates two or if it has another seat "firmly attached."

After the crash, Diaz fled the scene, troopers said. Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies later tracked her down at her home and took her to the scene. She was not injured.

Investigators said they do not believe that alcohol was a factor.

Diaz's driving record is marred with a list of infractions, according to records from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Two crashes last year involving Diaz were investigated by law enforcement, the records show. She has received citations for careless driving and "driving too fast for conditions," as well as two speeding tickets.

Her license was suspended Sept. 24 because she failed to get auto liability insurance, according to the records. It had not been reinstated.

Diaz has a single prior arrest in Florida, from 2009, on charges of larceny and burglary of an occupied dwelling, state records show. She pleaded guilty to the burglary charge and was sentenced to probation.

The driver of the Optima, Martin Santiago, 40, of Tampa, was not injured.

The crash remained under investigation.

Times staff writer Jessica Vander Velde and news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Two die when car strikes moped in Tampa, troopers say 10/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 7, 2013 9:21pm]
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