Advertisement
  1. News

Police identify family of three killed in fiery Selmon Expressway crash

Police say Luiz Felipak, 41, was one of three people killed in Thursday's crash on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. They tentatively identified two other members of his family, Rita and Giorgia Felipak, as fatal victims as well. FACEBOOK.
Police say Luiz Felipak, 41, was one of three people killed in Thursday's crash on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. They tentatively identified two other members of his family, Rita and Giorgia Felipak, as fatal victims as well. FACEBOOK.
Published Aug. 13, 2017

TAMPA — The three people who died in a fiery wreck Thursday were all members of a New Tampa family, Tampa police said Saturday.

Luiz Felipak, 41, was the driver of the Hyndai sedan that was hit by a speeding 2014 Kia on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

Police tentatively identified the other two victims, pending DNA results, as Rita Felipak, 29, and the couple's daughter Giorgia, 8.

They lived, according to the police report, in a gated condominium complex in Tampa Palms North section of New Tampa.

Earlier Saturday, Amber Nicole Perera, the 29-year-old Kia driver, made her first appearance in court. She was charged after the crash with DUI manslaughter.

Perera, of Brandon, will be held in Hillsborough County Jail without bail until at least Wednesday, a circuit judge decided. She will next appear in court Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing, where a bail could be set. Perera has hired a private attorney, Tampa's Hubble Lawson.

"Obviously this a very sad situation," Lawson said as he and the family exited the courthouse Saturday morning. "There's no question it's a tragedy."

Lawson said he had just started working on the case and declined further comment until the pre-trial hearing.

Family and friends of Perera came to court Saturday morning but declined to speak with reporters.

They watched, and some cried, as Perera stood before the judge through a video conference. She was handcuffed and wearing a jail-issued gray sack dress.

Violet Perera of Riverview, the woman's grandmother, has told the Tampa Bay Times that her granddaughter had a seizure right before the crash at 4:12 p.m. Thursday. But Perera's arrest report made no mention of a medical emergency.

The report did say Perera admitted using prescription medications Ativan and Lexapro. Both substances are commonly prescribed for anxiety; Ativan is also used to control seizures.

Perera was passing other eastbound vehicles, police say, when she lost control of her Kia and hit a Hyundai sedan, sending it through the expressway median and into the westbound lanes. A Jeep and an Infiniti sport utility vehicle hit the sedan before it burst into flames.

Perera continued to drive and was arrested about 21/2 miles away from the crash, which shut down the expressway for 10 hours.

Perera faces three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of a crash involving death and destruction of evidence.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  2. Daily recreations like this Bible scene at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando will be ending at the Christian theme park, which has been suffering from low attendance and debt for years.
  3. Medical Examiners Office personnel and Gainesville Police remove items from a Gainesville home after discovering jars of human tongues beneath the home Monday.
  4. Madico spent $40 million developing its new corporate headquarters and factory on Belcher Road in Pinellas Park. [Amy Pezzicara | Pezz Photo]
  5. Suzi Goodhope of Havana, Fla., and Shiraz, an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, are helping in the search for an African American cemetery forgotten somewhere on the grounds of MacDill Air Force Base. Goodhope trains human-remains detection dogs in Havana, Fla.
  6. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  7. In this March 14, 2012, file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media outside his home in Chicago as his wife, Patti, wipes away tears a day before reporting to prison after his conviction on corruption charges. President Donald Trump is expected to commute the 14-year prison sentence of Blagojevich. The 63-year-old Democrat is expected to walk out of prison later Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
  8. The fields are set for the April municipal elections in Pasco County. Times (2012)
  9. A courthouse regular snapped this image of a llama, named Thaddeus, as the animal strode past the Hillsborough County courthouse Monday. The llama's visit to Tampa became a social media sensation.
  10. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
  11. The developers of Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel are planning a $736 million downtown core to accompany nearly 2,700 residences and 355,000 square feet of commercial and office space in a walkable neighborhood. . As part of the deal, Pasco County will consider kicking  in a $33 million 30-year incentive, mostly a tax rebate to help with infrastructure costs.
  12. A "wild night" in Poinciana left two people dead and one shot seven times, but in stable condition.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement