TAMPA — The two cars raced each other along Bayshore Boulevard just before noon, witnesses told police. One was a black 2018 Mustang. The other a gold Nissan. They sped side-by-side, trading the lead, police said, despite the traffic and pedestrians around them.
The race ended with the death of a 24-year-old mother struck while pushing her stroller across the boulevard, according to Tampa police.
The mother, Jessica Raubenolt of Jeromesville, Ohio, was rushed to nearby Tampa General Hospital for emergency medical treatment. That's where she was pronounced dead.
Her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia, was also seriously injured in the crash.
Hours later, police made three arrests:
Cameron Coyle Herrin, 18, was driving the Mustang that struck the mother, police said. He face charges of vehicular homicide, street racing, and reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury.
Riding with him was his brother, Tristan Christopher Herrin, 20, who as the passenger faces a misdemeanor charge of racing. Under state law, it is also illegal for someone to "knowingly ride as a passenger in any such race." Police said they have no evidence he tried to stop the race or get out of the car.
The Nissan driver, John Alexander Barrineau, 17, was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide, street racing, and reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury.
All three live within minutes of the crash scene. All three were booked into the Hillsborough County jail.
The crash took place at 11:43 a.m. at Bayshore Boulevard and W Knights Avenue. Raubenolt was visiting the bay area, according to police, and legally crossing the intersection using the pedestrian ramp when she was struck.
Witnesses estimated that the two cars may have been going as fast as 60 mph at some point while racing each other, but police could not confirm that, nor say how fast they were traveling when the pedestrian was struck.
The two cars involved in the incident remained at the scene. However, all three of the occupants declined to speak to officers.
When reached by phone, Raubenolt's family declined to comment. The parents of the arrested could not be reached for comment.
Speeding is a perennial problem on Bayshore, said Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty. Hours before Wednesday's incident, police were monitoring the road and cracking down on speeders.
"That is an issue on Bayshore," he said. "We had motorcycle (officers) out writing tickets this morning.
"People aren't happy about it, but that's what we do to remind people you're not supposed to drive fast out there. We make an effort to slow things down but we're not out there 24-7. We can't be out there 24-7."
Bayshore Boulevard is a four-lane roadway divided by a wide median of grass and trees with sidewalks along both sides. On one side are some of the city's most expensive mansions. On the other, along the water, there is a linear park and a signature balustrade.
In February 2004, 39-year-old jogger Melissa McKenzie was struck and killed on the grassy median along Bayshore Boulevard. Tampa police said then that the motorcyclist they arrested was doing up to 80 mph at the time.
The death prompted then-Mayor Pam Iorio to form a task force to examine ways to make Bayshore safer. In the years since, pedestrian safety projects were completed, bicycle lanes and signage added and signals upgraded. But speeding and safety remain serious problems there.
There are no crosswalks along the nearly two-mile stretch from Gandy Boulevard north to Bay to Bay Boulevard, the area where Wednesday's fatal incident took place. The speed limit for much of the stretch is 40 mph. Neighborhood efforts in recent years to reduce the speed limit along part of the route have been unsuccessful.
Brian Butterly, 56, who normally walks Bayshore Boulevard with a group of five people once a week, said they didn't want to walk after the incident.
"It's almost impossible to cross the road because there are no crosswalks," Butterly said. "You have to fight two lanes of traffic going in both directions and the speed limit ... is almost always ignored."
What was unusual about Wednesday's fatality, Hegarty said, were the allegations of racing.
"Although speeding is an ongoing problem on Bayshore, racing has not really been a problem," he said. "We see that sort of thing on the bridges.
"But the kinds of problems that we get on Bayshore are that people are just going over the speed limit."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story identified Jessica Raubenolt incorrectly by her maiden name.
Staff writers Jonathan Capriel and Will Kennedy contributed to this report. Contact Tim Fanning at firstname.lastname@example.org.