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Photo from News Channel 8
BY MIKE WELLS
of The Tampa Tribune
VALRICO - Crash investigators say a woman was changing lanes “recklessly’’ in her pickup before setting off a 13-car collision on State Road 60 Thursday afternoon.
The collision killed an Apollo Beach woman and hurt seven others.
Janet Clayton, 60, a passenger in a different pickup truck, died at the scene, said Hillsborough County sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter.
Witnesses told investigators that Brandie Voss, 34, of Riverview was driving a black 2000 Dodge pickup east and was driving erratically just before the crash, Carter said.
Voss lost control of her truck and hit another vehicle, triggering a chain reaction.
Charges are pending against Voss while the investigation continues, Carter said.
The wreck happened at 2:40 p.m. in front of the Wal-Mart Super Center, just west of Valrico Road. Investigators worked into the evening to unravel how the cascading crash occurred.
The scene stretched several hundred yards between Valrico and Mt. Carmel roads in a panorama of debris, crumpled vehicles and stunned victims.
The crash caused traffic to back up on the six-lane highway that’s normally busy during the afternoon and evening commute.
A crowd of onlookers stood on either side of the road taking photos with camera phones and shaking their heads in disbelief at the destruction.
Valrico resident Lucas Suynh was among those in the crash. He said he was driving his black Jaguar east when he looked in his rearview mirror and “saw a white car flying” behind him.
Suynh said he tried to stop, but there was a car behind him and he was afraid he would get rear ended. He was not injured.
The ripple effect resulted in at least two vehicle turnovers, including a white Ford Explorer driven by Elier Sanchez, 34. Sanchez and his two passengers, Jaydah Davis, 6, and Diana Sanchez, 2, suffered cuts.
A dump truck driven by Juan Restrepo-Osorno, 32, of New Port Richey ended up on its side with its load of soil spilled onto the roadway. He was not hurt.
Four of the injured were rushed to Brandon Regional Hospital. They included Voss, Louise Lamonica, 53, of Louisburg, N.C., who was driving the 2004 Ford pickup that Clayton was in; Jacob Padoean, 17, of Brandon, who was driving another 2004 Ford pickup; and Delores Cruz-Martinez, 43, of Valrico, who was driving a 1994 Lincoln.
Other drivers and passengers from the remaining vehicles either suffered minor cuts or did not report any injuries, Carter said. No estimate of vehicle damage was available.
A sheriff’s patrol car was among vehicles involved in the crash but Deputy Anthony Bennett was not injured, Carter said.
For other vehicles on the road, the crash caused gridlock. Deputies diverted motorists around the site, putting pressure on secondary roads.
By 6 p.m., deputies had reopened one lane on each side of the highway and the roadway was to be entirely open before 10 p.m., Carter said.
Reporters Keith Morelli and Liz Bleau contributed to this report. Reporter Mike Wells can be reached at (813) 657-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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