(ran PW PS editions of PASCO TIMES)
A Tampa man was killed Sunday night after the car he was driving struck a vehicle parked in the emergency lane of Interstate 75 and spun into a cluster of trees, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The accident happened about 8:15 p.m. as Joseph Chester Lewallen, 32, 2518 N 58th St., and a passenger were headed north on the interstate.
About 2 miles north of State Road 54, Lewallen, for unknown reasons, veered into the emergency lane, according to an FHP news release. By the time he saw the car parked in the emergency lane, it was too late.
Lewallen steered to the left, but he clipped the back end of the parked car, the FHP said. Lewallen's car spun clockwise onto the east shoulder and struck several trees.
Lewallen and his passenger, 27-year-old David William Owen Jr., 4402 Airport Road in Plant City, were thrown from the vehicle. Lewallen, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Owen was airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where he was listed in stable condition Monday.
The force of the impact with the trees caused the engine of Lewallen's car to break free, starting a small brush fire, according to Sgt. James Tobin of the highway patrol.
The driver and passenger of the parked car, Amir Madani and Jamie Engle, both of Dade City, suffered minor injuries. They were sitting inside Madani's car when they were struck by Lewallen's vehicle, authorities said. Both complained of neck and back pain and were treated at a local hospital.
Tobin said investigators think alcohol played a role in the accident. He also said Lewallen was driving faster than the posted speed limit of 70 mph.