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Tampa crashes leave two dead, driver charged with DUI and vehicular homicide

Tampa police investigators look over the scene of a fatal car crash just off N Florida Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue on Monday. The driver of the SUV involved in the wrecks faces DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and other charges.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Tampa police investigators look over the scene of a fatal car crash just off N Florida Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue on Monday. The driver of the SUV involved in the wrecks faces DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and other charges.

TAMPA — An out-of-control driver barreling through busy afternoon traffic Monday on Florida Avenue rear-ended one car and hit another head-on at Hillsborough Avenue, killing two women, according to Tampa police.

Randy Archiquette, 39, of 12610 Bramfield Drive in Riverview was driving his gold GMC Yukon north on Florida Avenue at excessive speeds when a driver following him called 911, police said.

In the time it took for his sport utility vehicle to travel four blocks, two women died. Archiquette has been charged with two counts each of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. More charges are pending, police said.

Archiquette smashed into one car about 4 p.m., sending it into a utility pole, police said. Then his SUV blew through the intersection with Hillsborough Avenue, striking another car nearly head-on. The Yukon flipped, coming to rest upside down, a half-block north of Mohawk Avenue.

Twenty-year-old Brittany McFarland of 116 W Curtis St. had been going home after taking a young cousin swimming at a friend's apartment said her aunt, Charlotte Patterson.

Driving south alone on Florida in her father's 1997 Buick, she ended up in the deadly path of the SUV. The impact sent McFarland's car spinning, and it smashed into a tow truck that careened off the road into a tree, police said.

The Buick folded up like an accordion, and pinned McFarland inside, unconscious. It took about half an hour to get her out. She was taken to Tampa General Hospital but died of her injuries, police said.

A Tampa native, McFarland was the granddaughter of retired sheriff's Sgt. Paul Guarino, Patterson said. She grew up on a street surrounded by family, and was looking forward to starting nursing school, she said.

The young woman had attended Chamberlain High School and earned a GED from Brewster Technical Center. She had an older brother and two younger sisters.

"We're a very close-knit family," Patterson said. The whole clan had gathered for an Easter feast a day earlier.

"She was on e good girl," said Patterson. "She always helped take care of her siblings. She was very mature."

The other victim, Betty Williams, 69, of 3917 Suwanee Ave. was in a 1994 Chevrolet south of Hillsborough Avenue, when the SUV rear-ended her car and slammed it into a utility pole, police said. She was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and died later Monday.

Archiquette

Archiquette was also taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where his blood was tested for alcohol content. He was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail late Monday without bail, and listed his occupation as a contract administrator for L-3 Communications.

Police were also investigating whether he was involved in two other crashes that were reported Monday afternoon near 22nd Street and Adamo Drive, one involving a Crown Victoria and the other, a semitrailer truck. Police were pursuing the driver, but lost him at U.S. 301. There were no injuries in either of those accidents.

Ryan Patterson, 31, was on his way home when he saw the road blocked, stopped and heard that his younger cousin, Brittany McFarland, was dead. He stood next to the debris-strewn street, watching the scene for hours.

"It's a shame when a person's life is cut so short so fast, in a split-second," he said.

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Bill Levesque contributed to this story. Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3431.

Tampa crashes leave two dead, driver charged with DUI and vehicular homicide 04/13/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 9:44am]
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