Salvador Mendez Hernandez was driving four relatives home from a fishing trip just after midnight Saturday morning in Lithia.
Just south of Carter Road, The 35-year-old native of Wimauma drifted off the road and clipped a mailbox. When he tried to maneuver his bulky 2012 Ford Expedition back onto the southbound lane of County Road 39, he lost control of the SUV.
The car skidded on the pavement slick with evening rain, careened off the road and crashed into a tree, its left flank striking first.
Joel Lopez Mendez, 26, Hernandez’s cousin, was killed in the crash. He was a passenger in the SUV’s third row. He was wearing his seatbelt.
All of that is according to a release put out by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Saturday afternoon. Authorities do not suspect alcohol was a factor in the crash, but they’re still investigating.
The other passengers in the car were taken to Tampa General Hospital. Their injuries are not life-threatening, deputies said.
Contact Kirby Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-893-8793. Follow @kirbywtweets.