Dropped cellphone touches off a fatal chain accident on I-75

Published Nov. 7, 2012

PARRISH — A Georgia man was killed early Tuesday in a three-vehicle pileup on Interstate 75 that authorities say was initially caused when an 18-year-old Seffner woman dropped her cellphone while driving and tried to reach for it.

About 1:40 a.m., Brittany Gonzalez, lost control of her Ford Expedition as she tried to reach for the phone near the Hillsborough-Manatee county line, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Her vehicle swerved and flipped, stopping in the middle of the southbound lanes.

Gonzalez was able to get out of the SUV and walk to the side of the interstate, where she called 911.

James E. Sims Jr., of Stockbridge, Ga., didn't see the vehicle in the middle of the interstate. He hit it, and then a semitrailer truck hit him, the FHP said.

Sims died. Gonzalez and the semi driver, Angel Pedraja, of Miami, suffered minor injuries.