Saturday, April 21, 2018
Public safety

Seeking driver, Tampa police release video of trucks racing before fatal crash

TAMPA — The Tampa Police Department has released a video showing two racing pickup trucks moments before one of them plowed into a Toyota sport utility vehicle earlier this month, killing a man and critically injuring his wife.

Detectives want to identify and interview the driver of the truck that did not stop, police spokesman Eddy Durkin said. He declined to say whether the driver could face charges in connection to the Dec. 5 crash that killed Bill Swartz and injured his wife Jane.

"Detectives, right now, are focused on talking with the driver about what they observed of the crash," Durkin said in an email.

BACKSTORY: Fly-fishing, zip-lining Tampa couple separated by strangers’ deadly race

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

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 would crash into the Swartzs’ Toyota RAV 4 at Highland Avenue. Jane Swartz had just started to pull across Sligh Avenue 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 tossed the SUV into a utility pole.

Bill Swartz, a 78-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran, died at the scene. His wife, 58, was taken to a local 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 mile per hour speed limit just before the crash. Officers arrested the driver of the Dodge, 31-year-old Joseph Obregon of Tampa, and charged him with vehicular homicide and racing on the highway, among other crimes. He was released from the county jail the following day after posting $11,000 bail.

Investigators noted the other truck in the video has graphics on the driver’s side that could help identify it. Anyone with information is asked to call Tampa police at (813) 231-6130.

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

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