Gibsonton crash victims respond to DUI charge

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The Hillsborough County Sheriff's office says a driver under the influence caused a large crash last month in Gibsonton.

Kenneth Cooper, III was behind the wheel of a flatbed truck when he hit six vehicles, including a motorcycle deputy. A blood test revealed a "chemical substance" in his system at the time of the crash.

Those involved in the crash said they still can't believe what happened that day.   

The crash happened December 22 on Gibsonton Drive. Pieces of vehicles and twisted metal littered the road.

"I couldn't believe how lucky I was," said Brian Clarke, whose truck was hit that day.

Clarke saw it coming from his rear view mirror.

"He hit the first car and careened into the cop on the motorcycle and he kind of just plowed into the other vehicles that were at the light," Clarke said.

Deputy Tim Berg was dragged 150 feet from his motorcycle and pinned underneath two trucks. It took more than an hour for rescue crews and a heavy wrecker to get him out.

"I was pretty scared he didn't make it. To hear that he did, I was very relieved," Clarke said.

Sadly, the cause of all of this injury and destruction doesn't come as a surprise. "I thought the guy was a little funny on the scene," Clarke said. "He changed his story two or three times. He didn't seem drunk to me but he did seem like he was under the influence of something."

"This was a big truck," said Attorney Carl Hinson.

Hinson is representing Rafael and Nairda Miranda who were hurt  in the crash. He says Nairda is still in so much pain, she hasn't been able to return to work.

"It could've been tragic," Hinson said. "Their grandson was supposed to be in the car with them in the back of the vehicle."

"I've represented people in the past similar to the Mirandas who lost their lives because of DUI drivers or lost a leg, and basically, no amount of money puts them back to where they were before."

The thought that this crash never should have happened leaves passengers and drivers like Clarke wondering why.

"Everybody I saw injured, all the vehicles I saw totaled, all because of this guy not thinking straight," Clarke said. "It's kind of pathetic."

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Deputy Tim Berg's condition is improving after he suffered cuts, bruises and other injuries.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Cooper is charged with 12 counts of DUI with injury and property damage, one count of DUI with property damage, and two counts of violation of probation. He has a history of arrests in Hillsborough County that include drug trafficking and possession, and grand theft.