Wrong-way driver dies in Howard Frankland Bridge crash

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A wrong-way driver with a history of drinking and driving died after a crash on the Howard Frankland Bridge that closed the span's northbound lanes for hours during Friday morning's commute.

The crash happened before 6 a.m. just north of the 4th Street exit on the Pinellas County side of the bridge.

The Florida Highway Patrol says a 2010 Chrysler made a U-turn near the center of the Howard Frankland Bridge and began traveling southbound in the northbound lanes for about three miles before crashing. That Chrysler, driven by Renard Antonio McGriff of Pinellas Park, smashed head-on into a 2016 Ford van.

McGriff, 46, died at the scene.

The van driver, identified as 44-year-old Mark Joseph Reale from St. Petersburg, was taken to Tampa General Hospital with critical injuries, troopers said. 

A third vehicle, a GMC SUV, struck the side of the van. That driver, from Georgia, had no injuries.

Troopers say alcohol was likely a factor in the crash, and the 46-year-old did have a 2017 arrest for DUI on his record. He'd also spent time in prison for a drug conviction.

The accident closed all Tampa-bound lanes of the bridge for three hours, fouling the commutes of thousands of drivers.

Stay with FOX 13 for updates.