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‘I’m going to jail.’ Brandon man arrested on DUI manslaughter charge in December crash

Phillip A. Westfall was under the influence of alcohol when he ran a red light on Bloomingdale Avenue and crashed into an SUV, killing 30 year-old Michael McCoy, deputies say.

VALRICO — Phillip Westfall knew he was in trouble.

About 10 minutes after he barreled into an intersection on Bloomingdale Avenue on Dec. 3, crashing into an sport-utility vehicle, Westfall left a voicemail for his ex-wife, authorities say.

“There was an accident, ahh, I’m in the middle of some sh-t,” Westfall, 41, said in the message, his words slurring, according to an arrest report.

In a text message sent later to the ex-wife, he wrote: “Somebody pulled out in front of me and I hit them in an intersection. I’m going to jail.”

But deputies say it was Westfall, not the driver of the SUV he plowed into, who was at fault in the Dec. 3 crash that killed 30-year-old Michael McCoy and seriously injured two of his family members. Investigators say Westfall was under the influence of alcohol and was driving more than twice the posted speed limit shortly before the crash.

This week, Westfall was arrested on several charges including DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrest report outlines what investigators say happened that day.

Westfall was driving his 2018 Chevy Tahoe west on Bloomingdale Avenue about 5:48 p.m. when the light at Blowing Oak Street turned red. Westfall continued through the intersection, the report says, crashing into the rear passenger side of a Chevy Equinox as its driver tried to turn from Bloomingdale Avenue into the Crestpointe Town Center.

The force of the crash propelled the Equinox into a Toyota Scion that was stopped on Blowing Oak Street.

Michael McCoy was in the back seat of the Equinox and died from his injuries at the scene. His wife, Peggy McCoy, was also in the back seat and spent three weeks in the hospital for injuries that included a fractured spine and a broken ankle, according to the report.

Michael McCoy’s mother, Lisa Savoie, was sitting in the front passenger seat and spent three weeks in the hospital for injuries that included severe head trauma and pelvic injuries, the report says. Savoie’s husband, Paul, was driving the car. The report does not list any injuries for him.

The driver of the Scion, 34-year-old Jensen Tanneberger, told deputies she was waiting to turn onto Bloomingdale Avenue when she looked to her left and saw the Tahoe “speeding” toward the intersection and heard the Tahoe’s engine “zoom.”

Another witness sitting in her car at the intersection told investigators the Tahoe driver was “trying to beat the light” and was “flying.”

Westfall showed signs of intoxication and a detective smelled alcohol on him and coming from the inside of his SUV. A deputy on the scene saw Westfall “fall to one knee and act as if he was praying for the deceased victim,” the report says.

“I was coming from a charity golf game, I had the yellow light,” Westfall said, according to the report. “Now a person is dead. Oh, my God! I did not mean to. It was not my fault, I had the yellow light.”

A blood sample taken from Westfall at 9:11 p.m., more than three hours after the crash, showed his blood alcohol level at .126. The legal limit in Florida is .08.

Michael McCoy, pictured here on a GoFundMe page created by his sister, died on Dec. 3 after an intoxicated driver ran a red light on Bloomingdale Avenue in Valrico and crashed into an SUV that McCoy was riding in, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Michael McCoy, pictured here on a GoFundMe page created by his sister, died on Dec. 3 after an intoxicated driver ran a red light on Bloomingdale Avenue in Valrico and crashed into an SUV that McCoy was riding in, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [ gofundme.com ]

Investigators reviewed surveillance video from a nearby restaurant that captured the crash. A pedestrian signal in the video changed from red to white, signaling it was safe to cross to cross Bloomingdale, the moment Westfall’s Tahoe entered the intersection. The report notes than when the traffic signal at the intersection changes to red, there is a two-second delay before the pedestrian signal changes to white, indicating Westfall ran the red light, the report says.

The Tahoe’s data recorder showed the SUV was traveling at 92 mph about five seconds before the crash and about 70 mph at or near impact. The speed limit there is 45 mph.

Detectives learned that Westfall had participated in a charity golf tournament at Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club that morning. Staff at the club told investigators he drank three beers and a margarita during the tournament. Inside the Tahoe, investigators found a 15-pack of 16-ounce beers with six missing.

Westfall was arrested Tuesday on a warrant. In addition to DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, he faces charges of DUI resulting in seriously injury and DUI resulting in property damage. He was released later in the day after posting $19,500 bail.

Westfall, who owns a real estate appraisal business, hung up on a Tampa Bay Times reporter who called seeking comment Friday.

Jail records show Westfall was arrested on a DUI charge in Brandon in 2010. Details of that arrest were not available but court records show he pleaded no contest to reckless driving.

Amy Harmon, Michael McCoy’s sister, told the Times in a Facebook message that the family’s attorney advised them not to speak with the news media.

In public Facebook posts on her page after the crash, Harmon gave periodic updates on her mother’s recovery and plans for McCoy’s arrangements. The family planned to have him cremated and will schedule a celebration of life in the coming months.

“I am just so thankful that my mom and sister in law are home from the hospital and healing,” Harmon wrote in a post on Christmas Eve. “We are missing one this year. We miss you bubba! Fly high Michael.”

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