Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo man charged in fatal February crash on Tampa highway

TAMPA — He proposed to her, and they went out dancing to celebrate with friends and family that night.

Just a few hours later, the ring was still on her finger when she was ejected from the car he was driving. He ran away, and she died at the hospital.

On Wednesday, Manuel Barron Rosas, 28, of Largo was arrested on a warrant filed in late July. He has been charged with DUI manslaughter in the Feb. 28 death of 35-year-old Leticia Benitez-Gutierrez.

Rosas lost control of his fiancee's 1998 Pontiac Firebird just before 3 a.m. and crashed into a guardrail on Interstate 275 in Tampa, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Benitez-Gutierrez was not wearing a seat belt, investigators said.

Rosas was identified by other passengers in the car before he took off, Highway Patrol officials said. He was eventually extradited from Los Angeles.

For Benitez-Gutierrez's family, the last few months have been difficult. She left behind two daughters, ages 17 and 19, and two sons, 13 and 8, who now live with their maternal grandmother.

Her younger daughter, who saw the crash from another car, is depressed and talks about suicide, said Ana Benitez, Benitez-Gutierrez's younger sister.

Benitez, 35, said her 8-year-old nephew often has nightmares. Two nights ago, he woke up and searched for his mother.

She said her sister had dated Rosas for a few months. Her family did not approve of him.

"He was a crazy guy," Benitez said. "He drank a lot."

Rosas has also been charged with violating a license restriction. He had a license for business purposes, meaning he was supposed to drive only to and from work.

His history includes a charge of driving under the influence with property damage in Pinellas County in 2006. In that case, he also was charged with leaving a crash scene before police arrived.

He has been cited for careless driving, driving without a license and driving with a suspended or revoked license. In March 2007 he was deemed a habitual traffic offender but got limited driving privileges re­instated in September 2009.

In the February case, Rosas' blood alcohol level was over the level that assumes impairment, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Kraus. He didn't specify the level.

For now, Benitez-Gutierrez's family members have what they wanted — Rosas' arrest. Benitez said she always thought he was a bad influence on her sister.

"I think she fell in love with him," Benitez said in Spanish. "Her wings were clipped too soon."

Times staff writers Alexandra Zayas and Jessica Vander Velde and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Nandini Jayakrishna can be reached at (813) 661-2441 or [email protected]

Largo man charged in fatal February crash on Tampa highway 09/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas sees slight increase in black and first-year teachers

    Blogs

    A year after the Pinellas County school district was chastised in a state report for clustering inexperienced teachers in the state's most struggling schools, the district has reported a first look at its teacher corps.

    The Pinellas County school district has taken a first look at first-year teachers in struggling schools and minority hiring, both of which ticked slightly upward.
  2. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family

    Editorials

    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …

  3. Lightning: Jon Cooper takes unusual tact to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and ... whom else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. Hillsborough teachers get a hard no on scheduled pay raises

    Blogs

    The Hillsborough County School District cannot afford to advance teachers to their next year's pay levels, employee relations manager Mark West told the union at Monday afternoon's bargaining session.

    This might be the last teacher bargaining session in Hillsborough for awhile. Although the two sides are not officially at an impasse, the district says it cannot pay teachers their scheduled raises.
  5. Editorial: A neighborhood under attack unites

    Editorials

    Three murders in two weeks understandably have Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood on edge. But Tampa police and residents are working together to find the killer and are connecting in ways that will strengthen the community in the long run. This is the best reaction to the tragedy of the three deaths, and it should …

    Seminole Heights residents came together in a candlelight vigil Sunday night to pay respect to the families and to demonstrate that they will not be cowed into staying indoors.