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Dump truck driver was on drugs in fatal Pasco crash, FHP says

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dump truck came speeding down Ridge Road, with worn tires and a driver on three prescription drugs, when it slammed into a pickup last September, authorities said.

The collision created a four-car pileup that killed 59-year-old Ruben Q. Echevarria. On Friday, the Florida Highway Patrol arrested the dump truck driver in that man's death.

Daniel Howard Arends, 49, was charged with DUI manslaughter and manslaughter by culpable negligence, plus three counts of DUI with serious bodily injury for the others hurt in the Sept. 21 crash.

Authorities say Arends had a mix of Valium, oxycodone and the muscle relaxant Nordazepam in his system that afternoon. FHP also determined Arends was driving 68 mph in a 45 mph zone with "improper equipment" — specifically, worn tires.

The Mack truck slammed into a string of vehicles stopped on Ridge Road at Galen Wilson Boulevard. Echevarria's yellow 2007 Chevrolet pickup took a direct hit.

The impact pushed the pickup into a 1996 black Ford Mustang driven by Darynn J. Magee, then 24, of New Port Richey. The Mustang then crashed into a 2007 black Saturn sport utility vehicle driven by John C. Shelak, then 62, of New Port Richey. Magee, Shelak and the Saturn passenger, Bonnie J. Shelak, then 59, were all injured. Echevarria died at the scene.

Arends was booked at the Land O'Lakes jail on Friday afternoon and is being held on $50,000 bail.

Dump truck driver was on drugs in fatal Pasco crash, FHP says 03/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2011 9:03pm]
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