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Fatal Crash Closes U.S. 19



Chris Urso / The Tampa Tribune

By LISA A. DAVIS
The Tampa Tribune

HUDSON - On the U.S. 19 median just south of the Hernando County line, the mangled remains of a white car sat as the centerpiece of a fatal accident investigation Friday.

On the shoulder of the northbound highway was a cement mixing truck from B.E.T.E.R Mix Inc. of Hudson.

Around the wreck were flashing lights and at least half a dozen Florida Highway Patrol troopers and their cruisers, as well as several Pasco sheriff’s deputies directing traffic. Eventually, U.S. 19 was closed in both directions north of Aripeka Road.

The driver of the unrecognizable car, a woman, was flown as a trauma patient to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Her male passenger died at the scene.

Their names hadn’t been released Friday afternoon.

Highway patrol Cpl. Michael Styers said the cement truck driver didn’t have time to miss the woman’s car and they crashed just after 12:20 p.m.

“The white car was backing up on U.S. 19 for an unknown reason,” Styers said while using a measuring wheel to calculate the distance from the crash to the nearest street, Briar Oaks Drive. “When he [the truck driver] hit the brakes, he swerved over and that’s where he ended up.”

The trooper pointed to the truck, which didn’t appear to be damaged from that vantage point. Both vehicles were headed south when the collision occurred in front of Lollipops exotic dance club. It wasn’t clear where the woman came from or where she was going.

Styers, the highway patrol’s homicide investigator, was still trying to figure out why the woman was backing up on the highway.

Barry Newton, 41, was driving south on U.S. 19 from Spring Hill to Aripeka when he heard the crash shortly after he crossed into Pasco.
“I just heard a boom,” he said. “I didn’t see nuttin.’”

Traffic immediately backed up, Newton said, and more than 30 minutes later he reached the accident scene. People were running around trying to help and he saw someone on a stretcher.

“Nasty,” he said.

Troopers were still investigating the crash later in the afternoon.

Reporter Lisa A. Davis can be reached at (727) 815-1083 or ldavis@tampatrib.com.



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