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Charges upgraded against driver in Clearwater crash that killed two

CLEARWATER — Additional charges have been filed against a 27-year-old man who, police say, was intoxicated when he caused an eight-vehicle crash in June that killed two men.

Daniel Barga, whose last known address is 7121 Seventh Ave. N in St. Petersburg, was charged in late July with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence, authorities said Tuesday. He had previously been charged with driving without a valid license causing death or serious injury and possession of oxycodone.

According to Clearwater police, Barga was speeding in a Chevy Avalanche when he slammed into a Scion that was stopped in traffic on U.S. 19 near Nursery Road.

Two passengers in the Scion — Richard Kelly, 23, and Jancarlos Alberto Schaffer, 22, both of Odessa — were killed in the June 19 crash. Eight other people, including Barga, were injured.

Barga told police he was the passenger in the Chevy, which set off a search for the driver.

But investigators soon determined that Barga was driving when the Chevy's vehicle data recorder showed the passenger seat was unoccupied at the time of the pileup, authorities said.

Witnesses also told police that Barga was behind the wheel.

Preliminary toxicology results revealed Barga had the narcotic pain reliever Roxicodone in his system, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Beth Watts.

Court records show Barga is a habitual traffic offender, having racked up 22 infractions since 1999. At the time of the accident, he was out on bail awaiting trial on a charge of possession of Xanax, an antianxiety medication.

His arraignment on charges stemming from the crash is scheduled for Aug. 16.

Charges upgraded against driver in Clearwater crash that killed two 08/10/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 8:25pm]

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