THONOTOSASSA (FOX 13) - Three people are dead and two others injured after a four-vehicle accident on U.S. 301 in Thonotosassa.
The accident happened at 5:40 a.m. Saturday morning on a bridge between Stacy Road and MacIntosh Rd. U.S. 301 was closed for several hours as Florida Highway Patrol investigated the crash.
According to FHP, Elisa Chantel Riquelme, 28 of Zephyrhills, was driving a silver 2005 Volkswagon Beatle southbound on U.S. 301. A witness said she tried to pass a vehicle ahead of her, but when she crossed into the northbound lane, she hit a 1999 Ford Explorer - with two men inside head-on.
"She heard a loud collision and she pulled over and looked behind her and didn't see any headlights so she called up 911," said Sgt. Allan Carter.
The SUV was then engulfed in flames. All three people inside the two vehicles died at the scene.
FHP identified the two men as Matthew Garcia, a 24-year-old from Riverview, and Corey Dormany, a 24-year-old from Seffner. Garcia, who was not wearing a seat belt, and Dormany, who was wearing his, were both ejected from the Explorer. Riquelme was also ejected from her car. She was not wearing her seat belt, according to FHP.
Carter said it was still too early to tell whether drugs or alcohol may have played a factor, but the crash occurred in a no passing zone.
"A lot of people become impatient with wanting to get where they're going and as a result we have a crash," said Carter.
Two trucks driving northbound on the dark roadway were unable to react in time and also crashed into the SUV minutes later. One person was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. FHP says the people inside both trucks were wearing seatbelts.
FHP said some of the victims in the fatal crash were ejected from their vehicles.