Friday, September 21, 2018
Public safety

Second death from street racing on Sligh could bring added homicide charge

TAMPA — Bill Swartz died last month when a pickup truck slammed into his Toyota while racing another truck along Sligh Avenue, police said.

Now Swartz’s wife, who was driving, is gone, too.

Jane Swartz died Saturday after spending more than six weeks in the hospital. She was 58.

Authorities say her death could mean a second vehicular homicide charge for Joseph Obregon, driver of a Dodge Ram that was racing on Sligh Avenue near Florida Avenue just before the Dec. 5 crash, police said.

Obregon, 31, was arrested at the scene and charged with one count of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and racing on the highway. He spent a night in jail and was released after posting $11,000 bail.

The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office has been notified of Jane Swartz’s death and will make a decision about amending Obregon’s charges, Tampa police spokesman Eddy Durkin said. A spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to search for the driver of the pickup that Obregon was racing that day, police said. Surveillance video released Dec. 22 shows the two trucks racing, police said.

"We still hope a member of the community will recognize the vehicle and call in with a tip," Durkin said.

The first part of the 40-second video, taken from nearby surveillance cameras, shows two trucks pull up to the traffic signal at Sligh and Florida. About 15 seconds later, the light turns green and the trucks race away, headed west on Sligh.

A second portion of the video shows the trucks on another section of Sligh.

Seconds later, at about
10:40 a.m., the silver Dodge Ram farthest from the camera crashes into the Swartzes’ Toyota RAV4 at Highland Avenue. Jane Swartz had just started to pull across Sligh to reach the couple’s home on Highland when the Dodge slammed into the passenger side where Bill Swartz was sitting. The force of the crash pushed the SUV into a utility pole.

Bill Swartz, a 78-year-old Marine Corps veteran, died at the scene. His wife was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

The driver of the white truck closest to the cameras in the video did not stop.

Police say witnesses estimated the trucks were going twice the posted 35 mph speed limit just before the crash. At least one witness said the Toyota would have had plenty of time to cross Sligh if the truck driven by Obregon hadn’t been speeding.

An attorney listed for Obregon in court records did not respond to a message Thursday.

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Comments
Hernando woman crashes car with 2-month-old inside 'to get attention' of ex-boyfriend

Hernando woman crashes car with 2-month-old inside 'to get attention' of ex-boyfriend

DADE CITY — A woman intentionally crashed her car, with a 2-month-old girl inside, just to get the attention of her ex-boyfriend, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Tuesday night around 9 p.m., Breanna Bechtol, 21, of Weeki Wachee...
Updated: 7 hours ago
When is a seat not a seat? Restaurant takes beach town to court for answers

When is a seat not a seat? Restaurant takes beach town to court for answers

NORTH REDINGTON BEACH — A local restaurant owner just filed his fourth active lawsuit against this small beach town in a years-long legal battle over allowable number of seats and signage.Town officials say all they want is for the Sweet Sage ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bloomingdale High School teacher secretly recorded 'multiple’ students since January 2017, records show

Bloomingdale High School teacher secretly recorded 'multiple’ students since January 2017, records show

BRANDON — When Bloomingdale High School teacher Mark Ackett was arrested last week and accused of placing cell phones in a changing room to record students undressing, several question remained unanswered.Among them: When did the recording beg...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Boston incident sparks concern over testing gas pipes in St. Pete

Boston incident sparks concern over testing gas pipes in St. Pete

By SUHAUNA HUSSAINTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — One day after a string of fiery natural-gas explosions rocked three Massachusetts towns,St. Petersburg sent out a notice to residents warning them that Florida Gas Transmission will be testing its...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Officials: 3 killed in shooting at Maryland Rite Aid center

Officials: 3 killed in shooting at Maryland Rite Aid center

ABERDEEN, Md. — Three people were killed Thursday morning in a shooting at a Rite Aid distribution center in northeast Maryland, officials said.A law enforcement official with knowledge of the shooting stressed that the number of dead is based...
Published: 09/20/18
New DNA testing leads to arrest in rape, murder of Sarasota woman 19 years ago

New DNA testing leads to arrest in rape, murder of Sarasota woman 19 years ago

The Sarasota County's Sheriff's Office arrested a St. Petersburg man after linking him to a 19-year-old murder case through DNA testing.Deputies arrested 39-year-old Luke Fleming in the rape and slaying of Deborah Dalzell in March 1999, Sarasota Coun...
Published: 09/20/18
Girl, 16, stabbed in back during fight with Gibbs classmate at St. Petersburg bus stop

Girl, 16, stabbed in back during fight with Gibbs classmate at St. Petersburg bus stop

ST. PETERSBURG — A fight at a school bus stop escalated Thursday morning, resulting in a 16-year-old girl being stabbed in the back by a fellow Gibbs High student.St. Petersburg police say the girls — ages 15 and 16 — have been i...
Published: 09/20/18
City says Disston Plaza traffic issues fixed

City says Disston Plaza traffic issues fixed

ST. PETERSBURG — Tim Funderburk, traffic signal coordinator for the city, says the problem that was causing traffic to back up at the new Disston Plaza entrance has been solved.The plaza at 3501 49th St. N was recently revamped and an old Publ...
Published: 09/20/18
Orlando-Melbourne airport lockdown lifted after breach of security

Orlando-Melbourne airport lockdown lifted after breach of security

MELBOURNE — Police in Florida have re-opened the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport following a breach of security that resulted in some flight delays.Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker tells news outlets a student pilot boarded a passenger ...
Published: 09/20/18
Cops question viral video about human trafficking at Pinellas Publix

Cops question viral video about human trafficking at Pinellas Publix

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is setting the record straight about a viral Facebook video posted by a Dunedin woman who claimed she almost fell victim to human trafficking. Lynne Knowles took to Facebook to share what happened to her at...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18