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Two Hillsborough women and child die when Ford Expedition flips in Volusia County

TAMPA — Shawn Callaway glanced at his rearview mirror Saturday afternoon and saw an image that will haunt him for the rest of his life:

His sister's sport utility vehicle, careening across three southbound lanes on Interstate 95, hitting a center guard rail and flipping.

The right rear tire had blown out on this stretch north of State Road 40 in Volusia County, an hour's drive into a return trip from a family graduation in Jacksonville.

Callaway had led the caravan. His sister Stephanie Callaway, 33, of Tampa followed, driving a 2004 Ford Expedition with six others in tow.

Now, the SUV was crumbled on the northbound lanes. Stephanie was dead.

Callaway rushed to his niece, Angalia Whicker, 34, who was fading on the pavement. She told him she couldn't breathe.

Whicker, of Brandon, and her 9-year-old daughter, Cyenna Watts, would die at the hospital.

Florida Highway Patrol officials are working to determine which occupants of the car were wearing seat belts.

The big, tight-knit family had spent the second weekend in a row celebrating milestones.

On Saturday, a relative graduated from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville.

And the weekend before, Whicker got married. The newlywed posted wedding photos on Facebook the day before she died. She titled the online album "new me."

Whicker, who worked at Stewart Title of Tampa, and Stephanie Callaway, who worked at a Humana call center, leave behind children who survived the crash: Stephanie Callaway's 3-year-old son and Whicker's teenage daughter.

Three other teenage girls, two of Stephanie's and one of Whicker's, were riding with their uncle when the crash happened behind them. They're struggling to make sense of what they saw.

"They think it's just a dream," Shawn Callaway said on the phone from his mother's house, where family members gathered to pray Sunday morning. His mother, who also was in Stephanie's SUV, was hospitalized with injuries.

"It's playing in my head, that truck turning over like that so many times," said Callaway, 37.

He prefers to remember the last time he saw them alive, at the McDonald's on the outskirts of Jacksonville where everyone stopped to feed the kids.

A cashier had messed up the order, but Whicker waited patiently. She was like that.

Cyenna was being playful as usual. The "baby girl," as they called her, loved to sneak up behind people and cover their eyes. She reminded Callaway of Stephanie, who also carried that jokester gene. Before either knew it would be the last time, Callaway stuck his tongue out at his sister.

She smiled.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Two Hillsborough women and child die when Ford Expedition flips in Volusia County 05/03/09 [Last modified: Sunday, May 3, 2009 11:09pm]
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