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Distracted driver caused deadly 6-vehicle crash on I-275 exit ramp in Tampa, troopers say

Two people were killed in the collision Monday, snarling traffic on the Howard Frankland Bridge, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
First responders work at the scene of a fatal crash on the Kennedy Boulevard exit ramp from northbound Interstate 275 on Monday morning.
First responders work at the scene of a fatal crash on the Kennedy Boulevard exit ramp from northbound Interstate 275 on Monday morning. [ Florida Department of Transportation ]
Published Jul. 18|Updated Jul. 18

TAMPA — Two people were killed Monday in a multi-vehicle crash on an Interstate 275 exit ramp that happened after a 51-year-old Clearwater driver looked down at his phone, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Clearwater man was driving a pickup truck north on I-275, exiting onto Kennedy Boulevard, when he looked down at his phone and slammed into the back of a sedan that was stopped in traffic around 7:30 a.m., the agency said in a news release Monday afternoon.

The sedan, which was being driven by a 53-year-old Lakeland woman, was pushed forward, causing a chain reaction in which the two vehicles struck four others— a sedan being driven by a 38-year-old St. Petersburg woman, an SUV driven by a 70-year-old Bradenton woman, a pickup truck driven by a 55-year-old man from Seminole and an SUV driven by a 33-year-old St. Petersburg woman, troopers said.

The 53-year-old Lakeland woman in the second vehicle and her passenger, a 39-year-old man from St. Petersburg, died at the scene, the release said.

The 38-year-old St. Petersburg woman in the third vehicle sustained serious injuries, troopers said. Her passenger, a 6-year-old girl from St. Petersburg, received minor injuries, as did all others involved in the crash.

The collision snarled traffic on the Howard Frankland Bridge. Traffic cameras in the area showed drivers on the ramp using the shoulder to get by the crash scene.

The exit ramp reopened around 12:35 p.m., troopers said.

This is a developing story. Check tampabay.com for updates.

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