Police: Impaired driver caused deadly crash

- Police say the driver who caused a fiery crash that killed three, including a child, on the Selmon Expressway Thursday admitted she was taking prescriptions medications that could have left her impaired.

Tampa police said Amber Nicole Perera lost control of her vehicle creating a multi-vehicle chain reaction. Officers say she admitted to taking Ativan and Lexapro. Results of her blood alcohol concentration test are pending.

The crash occurred just after 4 p.m. on the expressway about a half-mile east of the West Euclid Avenue entrance ramp.

Investigators said Perera was driving a 2014 Kia. According to witnesses, she was speeding in the eastbound lanes in an attempt to pass at least two other vehicles. She struck the rear of a Hyundai occupied by three people, including a child. The Hyundai spun into the grass median and into the westbound lanes where it was struck by a Jeep and an Infiniti SUV before bursting into flames. 

Perera also entered the westbound lanes, but continued driving. Her car sustained damages from the crash and broke down not far from the crash scene. A witness followed her and waited for police to arrive.

A Seffner man arrived at the scene and joined others trying to remove the driver of the fiery car. However, all three occupants died at the scene –- two adults and the child.

The driver of the Jeep, Tracy Lee Kelly, 43 of Seminole, had serious, but non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital. The driver of the Infiniti, Jerry Camilo Lamberti, 20 of Brandon, had no injuries.

Police said Perera was arrested after showing signs of impairment after the crash and was taken into custody.

Perera admitted to police to taking prescription medication, according to her arrest affidavit. The pills included Ativan and Lexapro, in which both can cause drowsiness. Results of her blood alcohol concentration test are pending.

She was charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI serious bodily injury, hit-and-run involving injury/death and tampering with evidence. The latter charged stems from her attempt to conceal the vials of blood that were drawn during the DUI investigation, according to a media release. Officials did not report how she attempted to hide them.

The identities of the deceased have not been determined. A portion of the Selmon Expressway from West Euclid Avenue to Bay to Bay Boulevard remained closed until approximately 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Additional details are expected to be released at a Friday afternoon press conference with Tampa police. One of the good Samaritans who pulled the now deceased driver out of the car is also expected to speak.

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