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Driver recalls car blowing past on its rim moments before Howard Frankland crash

The Hyundai Sonata involved in Monday’s crash on the Howard Frankland Bridge. A driver said it was missing a tire on its right front rim as it passed him.
The Hyundai Sonata involved in Monday’s crash on the Howard Frankland Bridge. A driver said it was missing a tire on its right front rim as it passed him.
Published Mar. 9, 2016

TAMPA — Jay Revis had just steered his Mazda 3 onto the northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge early Monday when he heard a grinding behind him.

The sound was unmistakable: metal on pavement.

Suddenly, a dark-colored sedan sped by on Revis' left side. The right front rim had no tire and was blowing up dust and debris.

Revis, 44, estimates the car, a Hyundai Sonata, was going about 80 mph.

"It kind of scared me," the software engineer from St. Pete Beach recalled Tuesday. "I thought it was like a police chase or something crazy like you see in a movie, but there weren't any police around."

There soon would be. Moments later, authorities say, the Sonata caused a multi-vehicle crash that sent four people to the hospital and brought morning rush-hour traffic to a standstill.

It was still unclear Tuesday why the Sonata driver, Ivan M. Hall, 62, of St. Petersburg, was driving so erratically, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins. Hall, who wasn't wearing a seatbealt, was the most seriously injured in the crash and was in stable condition after undergoing surgery at Tampa General Hospital, according to FHP.

Hall spoke to a trooper later Monday, Gaskins said, but provided little to no insight about the crash.

"He wasn't 100 percent sure about what he had done," he said.

State records show Hall has twice been found guilty of driving under the influence, in 1999 in Orange County and 2009 in Pinellas County. Last November, Hall was arrested in Volusia County and charged with possession of Schedule II narcotics. The charge was dropped last month, records show.

Charges or citations in Monday's crash are pending the outcome of an investigation and the results of a toxicology test, Gaskins said.

Revis, who was on his way to work in the West Shore area, said the Sonata blew by him and continued to weave in and out of traffic.

"I was surprised at the speed he was going on a rim," he said. "I didn't even know that was physically possible."

Suddenly, traffic in front of Revis came to a halt. He didn't see what happened, but he figured the Sonata had caused a crash.

Troopers, however, say the Sonata's left front tire blew out, causing it to careen out of control and spark a chain reaction crash involving 10 vehicles. The Sonata struck a barrier wall and came to rest just west of the hump. Three people were hospitalized with minor injuries.

The crash blocked all but one lane, causing backups in Pinellas County that stretched back to the Ulmerton Road ramp. All lanes of the Howard Frankland were reopened by 12:40 p.m.

Revis sat at a standstill for about 15 minutes and then rolled slowly by the crash scene. With so much twisted metal scattered across the bridge, he was surprised and relieved to hear later that only one person was seriously injured

"It looked so much worse," he said.

Times news researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.