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Driver dead on Tampa's Sligh Avenue after sports car hits wall in fiery crash

TAMPA — A 22-year-old man died Thursday morning after his sports car crashed into a wall on Sligh Avenue and burst into flames.

A Nissan two-seater crashed into the retaining wall of a home at 304 W Sligh Ave. just before 7 a.m. Thursday, police said. The car caught fire while Nasdiel Viera-Curbelo, 22, was trapped inside.

Viera-Curbelo already was dead when authorities arrived at the scene, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Witnesses reported seeing flames reaching as high as the telephone line and stretching down the street for half a block.

"We couldn't get in there to help them," said David Smith, 49, who lives near the crash site. "The whole street was on fire."

The wreck and resulting investigation closed Sligh Avenue from Florida Avenue to N Boulevard for most of the morning.

Police said it was not immediately clear how fast the car was going, but investigators believe speed was a factor in the collision.

It appeared the car was speeding eastbound over the Hillsborough River Bridge and became airborne when the driver lost control, investigators said.

Skid marks on the road show the driver swerved into oncoming traffic lanes on Sligh Avenue and overcorrected just before the collision, investigators said.

Police Chief Jane Castor responded to the scene about 8:15 a.m. She said the area is well-patrolled and officers are always on the lookout for speeding or street racing.

An investigation remained under way Thursday.

Marissa Lang can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or