LUTZ — Two men died and another was in critical condition after a speeding car hit a tree early Tuesday in the median of U.S. 41 just south of County Line Road, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Killed in the crash were the driver, a 22-year-old Wesley Chapel man, and a back-seat passenger, a 24-year-old Zephyrhills man. A Tampa man, 22, who was riding in the front seat, was taken to a hospital with critical injuries. Troopers were working to notify next of kin of the driver and the front-seat passenger and provided no information about them.
The driver and front-seat passenger were wearing seatbelts; the back-seat was not and he was ejected in the crash, troopers said.
The car was headed south on U.S. 41 about 3:25 a.m. when it failed to negotiate a curve and struck a tree, spinning out, losing its engine and coming to rest in the northbound lanes.
The crash blocked highway lanes in both directions Tuesday morning, forcing traffic onto Dale Mabry Highway. All lanes were later reopened, the Highway Patrol said in a news release at 10:40 a.m.
The Highway Patrol did not release the name of those involved in the crash because of its interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.