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Letter leads to man's arrest in fatal wreck

Published Sep. 16, 2005

If it weren't for a letter, authorities might never have made an arrest for a car crash July 6 that killed a mother and her son and injured three other children.

Vincenza Ruiz, 36, of Valrico and her 9-year-old son, Andrew, died in the crash on Bell Shoals Road south of Green Hollow Lane. Two other sons, Peter, 13, and Robert, 10, were injured, along with a cousin, Michael, 13.

Hillsborough sheriff's deputies at the scene could not determine why Ruiz lost control of her 1996 Mercury Tracer and swerved into the path of an oncoming truck. Now they know, Deputy Joe Robinson said Saturday.

Martin Miller, a subcontractor who installs telephone lines, was driving south on Bell Shoals Road and looking at numbers on the telephone poles when his truck crossed the center line into the path of Ruiz's car, causing her to swerve to avoid him, Robinson said.

Deputies on Friday arrested Miller, 41, of 9706 Pawnee Ave. in Tampa and charged him with five counts of leaving the scene of an accident causing death or serious injury, a felony. Miller is free on $25,000 bail.

Robinson said he received a letter from Miller four days after the crash, in which he implicated himself in the accident but did not provide details. Investigators decided to arrest Miller after interviews with him and evidence collected from his truck indicated he had been involved.

"The letter was kind of evasive," Robinson said. "He later told me that he caused the accident."