THONOTOSASSA — Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the death of a 71-year-old Tampa man in a four-car collision last month on two-lane Morris Bridge Road.
Damyantiben Kanani was a front-seat passenger in a southbound Honda CRV carrying five people when it was struck by a northbound Jeep Grand Cherokee trying to pass another car, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a search warrant affidavit.
The crash occurred about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13 on Morris Bridge near High Meadow Avenue.
The driver of the Honda, Vijay Kunani, 48, and a backseat passenger, Falguni Kanani, 45, were critically injured in the crash. The two other Honda passengers were 15 and 17.
The driver of the Grand Cherokee, 22-year-old Jeffrey Shawn Stafford II, received non-life-threatening injuries when his vehicle overturned. Two other cars were damaged in the crash, including the Pontiac that Stafford was trying to pass, and the occupants received minor injuries.
Deputies are conducting a vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter investigation, the affidavit said. They obtained a search warrant to review Stafford’s medical records and blood samples from Tampa General Hospital, where he underwent treatment for his injuries.
Stafford told deputies he smoked marijuana around 90 minutes before the crash, the affidavit said.
Stafford said he saw the headlights from the Honda before attempting to pass but “believed he would be able to beat it,” the affidavit said. By the time he realized he wouldn’t make it around the Pontiac, it was too late, he said. The Pontiac was going about 5 mph over the speed limit, the affidavit said.
Stafford estimated he was driving 50 mph to 55 mph before he attempted to pass but could not say how fast he accelerated.
Stafford drove his vehicle in an “extremely reckless manner,” the affidavit said, and the medical records were expected to reveal whether he should face charges in the collision.
No arrest had been made as of Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Office said.