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Passenger dies in I-75 crash; driver faces DUI manslaughter charge

The woman, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from a pickup truck that rolled over. The driver was arrested on a charge of DUI manslaughter, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Mario Charles Gonzalez, 41, faces a charge of DUI manslaughter, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Mario Charles Gonzalez, 41, faces a charge of DUI manslaughter, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Jun. 18
Updated Jun. 19

BRANDON — A 27-year-old Wesley Chapel woman was killed Friday afternoon after she was ejected from the pickup truck she was riding in, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The pickup driver now faces a charge of DUI manslaughter.

The crash took place about 2:50 p.m. on the northbound Interstate 75 frontage road approaching the State Road 60 exit ramp. Traffic had come to a stop, troopers say, and a northbound semitrailer driven by a 58-year-old Winter Haven man was slowing down for traffic ahead.

Then a pickup truck approached, driven by Mario Charles Gonzalez, 41. He had to take evasive maneuvers and swerve into the shoulder to avoid colliding with stopped traffic ahead, according to the Highway Patrol. The Wesley Chapel woman was riding in the passenger seat.

Then the pickup truck started to spin, re-enter the roadway and strike the right side of the semitrailer. The pickup flipped over and the Wesley Chapel woman, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the truck.

She was taken to a hospital, where she died from the injuries she sustained in the crash, troopers say.

Gonzalez was arrested on a charge of DUI manslaughter and booked into the Hillsborough County jail, according to the Highway Patrol. The results of his blood-alcohol content test were not available, according to jail records. No other details about the arrest were released by troopers. He was being held without bail on Saturday.

He was wearing a seatbelt and did not sustain injuries in the crash. The semitrailer driver was also uninjured.

The Highway Patrol did not release the name of the woman who died 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.