ST. PETE BEACH — Authorities have identified the two people killed in a fiery two-vehicle crash on Gulf Boulevard Friday night.
Pablo Mansilla-Aguinaga, 32, of Tampa, and Sandra Paulson, 33, of Schaumburg, Ill., were killed after their car was rammed by a speeding sport utility vehicle, St. Pete Beach police said.
The crash happened about 8:45 p.m. outside the Alden Beach Resort, 5900 Gulf Blvd. Officer Scott Vaughn saw the SUV speeding south and turned on his motorcycle lights to initiate a traffic stop, Police Chief David Romine said.
Within moments, the SUV struck a small Mazda sedan that was pulling out of the hotel. Both vehicles overturned, and the SUV wound up on top of a large fountain in front of the hotel and caught fire.
The driver of the SUV, Daniel Dolcater, 20, of Gulfport, was taken to a local hospital with serious head injuries. Sgt. Ray Anthony said the motorcycle officer clocked Dolcater going 69 mph on the 35 mph road.
Dozens of people walking on the street and sitting in restaurants witnessed the crash.
"It sounded like a little bomb going off," said Andre O'Keefe, 17, a host at Snapper's restaurant across the street. He saw police lights, then heard the crash and ran outside to help.
Mariano Alvarez, 51, the owner of Bella Habana restaurant across the street, also ran toward the wreckage. He saw the victims in the sedan, but not moving. He checked their pulses.
"He was gone, and she was just unconscious. She barely had a pulse," Alvarez said.
On the road in front of the Alden, the SUV driver lay on the ground. Police said he was unconscious at Bayfront Medical Center Friday night.
Witnesses scooped water out of the fountain to help put out the SUV fire, and resort employees brought out a hose that the officer used to put out the flames.
Alvarez and other witnesses said they saw the SUV swerving in and out of lanes as it approached the resort.
"This guy was way too fast for this block on a Friday night," Alvarez said. "It's tragic that he killed these two kids."
Police are not sure why Dolcater was speeding.
"We suspected maybe it was road rage, and he was running from somebody, but nobody was chasing him," Anthony said.
The investigation into what caused the crash remained open Saturday. Police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's office is reviewing the case to determine charges.