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Police identify victims, survivor in fatal Tampa crash

The crash happened about 8 p.m. Sunday at Columbus Drive and Matanzas Avenue in Tampa.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

The crash happened about 8 p.m. Sunday at Columbus Drive and Matanzas Avenue in Tampa.

TAMPA — The survivor of a crash that killed three of his friends was under sedation in critical condition Monday and unable to talk with detectives, police said.

The four were in a Jeep sport utility vehicle speeding away from a 7-Eleven where one of them had stolen two 12-packs of beer Sunday night, authorities said, when the SUV crashed.

Police had said the victims were three men and a woman. But after the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office began its review of the fatalities, police revised that to say the victims were two men and two women. None was wearing a seat belt, investigators said.

Police identified the survivor as Kenneth Edward Crouse, 41. Killed were Ashley Helen Thompson, 34, Steven Edward Cuervo, 41, and Tonya Elizabeth Faris, 29, all from Tampa or close by.

Relatives could not be reached Monday afternoon for comment.

Police said that just about a minute before the 8 p.m. Sunday night crash, a man in the Jeep had walked out of the 7-Eleven at Columbus Drive and Himes Avenue with some Natural Light beer and got into the Jeep.

One employee tried to retrieve the beer from them while another called 911 to report the theft and a possible DUI.

But only a few blocks away on Columbus, the speeding SUV struck a wall and flipped.

Police said one of the women was believed to be the SUV's driver, but didn't say which one.

State records show all four have criminal pasts on a variety of offenses. Crouse, the survivor, served time in state prison on a stolen property conviction.

He remained hospitalized Monday afternoon in critical condition. A man at his listed address declined comment.

On Sunday night, detectives reviewed video surveillance from the convenience store. On Monday afternoon, they were unable to interview Crouse because he was sedated, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Jessica Vander Velde contributed to this report.

Police identify victims, survivor in fatal Tampa crash 04/15/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 15, 2013 10:28pm]
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