TAMPA — A 76-year-old woman died Sunday in a five-car crash near Raymond James Stadium just hours before the kickoff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
Teresa Gonzalez Cruz, who lived about a half-mile from the stadium and was a passenger in one of the cars struck, was pronounced dead about 1 p.m. at St. Joseph's Hospital.
The crash occurred after Natalie Gassett, 33, of Tampa ran a red light at the intersection of N Himes Avenue and Spruce Street, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Cruz's husband and Gassett were also transported to St. Joseph's with minor injuries.
Detectives are still investigating what led up to the crash and hadn't announced any charges by Sunday night.
The late-morning accident closed the intersection for several hours, causing traffic backups as football fans headed to see the Bucs, who lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rob Roggeman of Valrico was on his way to tailgate before the game when his van became part of the pileup. As he stood outside his decommissioned vehicle wearing a Bucs jersey and smoking a cigar, he described what he saw.
The accident started when a woman driving a gold car southbound on Himes Avenue approached Spruce Street, lost control and hit an oncoming car, he said. No one in Roggeman's vehicle was injured, but it set off a chain reaction.
"Three people had to be taken to the hospital," he said.
William McDuffie of Tampa was also involved in the crash, and his car was the last link in the chain of accidents, he said.
He was also the only one who was able to drive his car away from the scene.
"It was wild —like a pinball machine," he said. "It was so quick and there was so much going on."
Neither he nor his passenger was injured.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374.