TAMPA — Cheryl Maria Riemann was drunk when she drove the wrong way on the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway on Wednesday and collided with another car, killing a mother and critically injuring her daughter, the Florida Highway Patrol said Saturday.
Authorities arrested Riemann on Saturday morning on multiple felony charges after test results showed the 25-year-old Ruskin woman had a blood-alcohol level of 0.244, more than three times the level at which someone is presumed impaired under state law, officials said.
Riemann, who was also injured in the crash, was discharged from Tampa General Hospital and taken to a Hillsborough County jail on charges of vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, DUI resulting in serious bodily injury and reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury, according to the Highway Patrol.
Tammy Rosian, whose daughter, Jennifer O'Boyle, was killed, sobbed upon learning of the arrest.
"I don't want to say anything I will regret later," she said, trying hard to restrain herself from a verbal assault on Riemann. "I'm not a bad person, I'm not a mean person. I'm a bigger person than that."
She began crying again.
"I just want my granddaughter to be okay."
Rosian's granddaughter, 4-year-old Summer Moll, was still clinging to life Saturday.
"She's nowhere near out of the woods," Rosian said. "Please pray for her so that I don't lose her, too."
The day of the accident, Summer and her mom were headed to Treasure Island to celebrate O'Boyle's 25th birthday a day early.
They left their Brandon home in O'Boyle's 1998 Pontiac Grand Am and made it to the lower portion of the Crosstown Expressway before 2 p.m.
Traffic video obtained by the Highway Patrol showed Riemann driving her 2008 Honda Pilot over traffic cones immediately after passing through the 78th Street toll plaza.
She drove east in the westbound lanes for 2.25 miles until she crossed the Palm River Road overpass.
That's when the cars collided head-on, officials said. Three other vehicles then collided with O'Boyle's vehicle. Those drivers suffered minor injuries.
It is unclear where Riemann, a mother of two young boys, was headed or where she had been. She refused to talk to investigators, officials said. Several Budweiser beer bottles were found in the front of her vehicle.
"What makes you want to drink your life away?" said Mike Robinson, O'Boyle's boyfriend. "This woman gets to kill somebody and gets to live the rest of her life. That's not right."
Riemann's husband, David Ramos, said Friday his wife seldom drinks, and he did not know where she was going at the time of the accident. Both work nights and are usually home in the afternoons.
The young girl suffered severe head injuries. Rosian said she is allowed to visit her granddaughter for a few minutes at a time.
"She is so bad off," Rosian said. "It's so hard to see."
Summer always had a smile on her face and was the type of child who would start conversations with people she had just met.
"She would say, 'Hello, what's your name?' and ask you for a hug," Rosian said. "It used to scare me because why would you give strangers a hug?"
She prays her only granddaughter will recover and vows that when she does, she will take her to Disney World, where she has never been, and get her the puppy she had been wanting.
The Disney trip was supposed to be a present for her fifth birthday in February.
"I'm not waiting on anything anymore," Rosian said. "If it's something I want to give her, she's going to get it."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 269-5312.