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U.S. Air Force staff sergeant killed in Saturday crash

RIVERVIEW — An Air Force staff sergeant died in a traffic crash Saturday near Riverview, according to the 6th Air Mobility Wing.

Staff Sgt. Cheryl Westbrook, 35, was traveling on Interstate 75 when she collided with another vehicle at about 10:45 a.m. She was an orthopedic surgical technician with the 6th Medical Operations Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base.

On Monday, the wing's commander, Col. Scott DeThomas, said in a prepared statement that Westbrook's death is a terrible loss for the wing.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Staff Sgt. Westbrook's family, friends and members of Team MacDill community touched by this loss," the statement read.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Westbrook of Gibsonton was traveling north in the center lane of I-75 near Gibsonton Drive at about 10:45 a.m. when she tried to change to the inside lane.

Her Toyota Tacoma collided with the side of a Lexus driven by Candelaria M. Perez, 38, of Riverview. Both vehicles went onto the east shoulder of the road.

Westbrook's car hit a Florida Department of Transportation sign and overturned, the FHP said.

Perez was transported to Brandon Regional Hospital with minor injuries.

Westbrook died at the scene, the FHP said, and an investigation is ongoing.

Westbrook joined the Air Force in 1995 and arrived at MacDill in 2011.

Her previous assignments included Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Yokota Air Base in Japan, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and Osan Air Base in South Korea, according to the Air Force.

"Cheryl was a hardworking and loyal teammate," said 6th Medical Operations Squadron commander Col. Elizabeth Decker in a prepared statement. "She will be missed so very much."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

U.S. Air Force staff sergeant killed in Saturday crash 05/20/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 12:01am]
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