Fatal Wrong-Way Crash on Tampa's I-275 Caught on Video
A little past 2 a.m. Sunday, Jada Wright was driving south on the I-275 in Tampa. When she looked over in the northbound lanes on the other side of the concrete barrier, she saw a white Ford Expedition traveling parallel to her on the wrong side of the highway.
"What is he doing? Am I being mind-fucked right now?" Wright says in the video she shot and later posted to Facebook. Less than 50 seconds after she started recording, Wright unintentionally captures the fiery crash that killed five (four USF students and the wrong-way driver).
In the video, Wright is aiming at the 2001 white Ford Expedition driving alongside her on the I-275 in Tampa north of the Busch Boulevard exit. The white SUV is clearly on the opposite side of the concrete barrier heading south on the northbound lanes.
"He's on the wrong side," Wright says, sounding confused. "Y'all excuse my curse words right now but this is... OK..."
Wright then focuses ahead of her to show that she is in fact going the proper way. On the opposite side of the barrier, Wright captures (what we counted to be) 14 cars whiz past the white SUV, miraculously missing the wrong-way vehicle. "It was a car going directly at me in the same lane," Crystal Fountain told Tampa's News 13. She says she was heading north when the Ford SUV sped past her in the opposite direction. "It was going straight; it was going fast. All I could think of was the car was on a death mission."
Then, almost 50 seconds into the video, Wright loses focus of the SUV and starts screaming and crying. "Oh my God! Oh my God!" Wright yells repeatedly. She then fumbles her focus but captures a bright, fiery explosion before she quickly stops recording.
According to theTampa Bay Times
, a Hyundai Sonata was driving in the northbound lanes (in the correct direction) up an incline, leaving that driver with little time to react when the oncoming wrong-way driver came into view. The Ford Expedition smashed into the Hyundai head-on.
Four USF students of the Mecca Mu Chapter of Sigma Beta Rho fraternity were inside the Hyundai. They were later identified as Jobin Kuriakose, 21, of Orlando; Ankeet Patel, 22, of Melbourne; Imtiayz Ilias, 20, of Fort Myers; and Dammie Yesudhas, 21, of Melbourne. Everyone in the crash -- including the wrong-way driver, whose name has not been released -- died at the scene.
On Sunday, the fraternity changed its Facebook's profile photo to a collage of the four men and posted this message on its page:
Jada Wright updated her Facebook status on Sunday:
At 7 p.m. Sunday, a group of students held a vigil near the crash site.
Florida Highway Patrol is aware of Wright's video but could not confirm its authenticity at this time.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.