Feb 10, 2014 12:53 PM
TAMPA, Fla. -- A sport utility vehicle traveling the wrong way on a Florida interstate collided head-on with a sedan early Sunday, killing five people, including four University of South Florida fraternity brothers, authorities said.
The accident happened on Interstate 275 in Tampa around 2 a.m. Sunday. The SUV was going the wrong way and hit a Hyundai Sonata, which was carrying four members of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity. The SUV driver was also killed.
Authorities identified the fraternity brothers as Jobin Joy Kuriakose, 21, Ankeet Harshad Patel, 22, Imtiyaz "Jim" Ilias, 20, and Dammie Yesudhas, 21. Florida Highway Patrol officials said they were struggling to identify the male SUV driver late Sunday because of extensive injuries from the fire.
University president Judy Genshaft said in a statement the counseling center will be available to help students struggling with the loss.
"Mere words cannot convey the depth of shock and sadness this terrible event brings to all who knew and cherished these wonderful young men," Genshaft said. "Our hearts are heavy at the loss of such bright, energetic and optimistic young people who had promising futures ahead of them; to have their lives cut tragically short betrays our sense of fairness and security."
Sigma Beta Rho is planning an on-campus memorial service later in the week.
Authorities said they were investigating the collision.
The highway was closed for several hours following the crash.At a roadside vigil and makeshift memorial for the victims, one person told CBS Tampa affiliate WTSP-TV, "God knows how we're going to come up through all this. We lost four lives – they are really the future of this country."
Investigators were trying to learn whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash, WTSP says.
Also early Sunday, a wrong-way driver on a Southern California freeway was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after causing a pre-dawn crash with multiple vehicles that left six people dead, says CBS Los Angeles station KCBS-TV.
Police arrested the 21-year-old female driver on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and felony manslaughter in connection with the 4:40 a.m. accident on the westbound Pomona freeway, or State Route 60, in Diamond Bar, said Rodrigo Jimenez, a California Highway Patrol spokesman on the scene, KCBS says.
The female driver was in stable condition at a Los Angeles County hospital with a broken femur and a ruptured bladder, the station adds. Two passengers from the car were among the dead, the station says.
Authorities were seeking blood tests.
“The officers had sufficient evidence and believe that she was impaired at the time,” California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez told CBS Los Angelese radio station KNX-AM.
Jimenez said the woman was traveling east in a red Chevy Camaro when it collided head-on with a red Ford Explorer. The sequence of events involving the other vehicles was not immediately clear. At least two people were ejected from their vehicles.
Four people were pronounced dead at the scene, and two people died at an area hospital, authorities said. The freeway lanes in both directions were closed for hours Sunday.
Jimenez told the Los Angeles Times as he stood near the crumpled vehicles that it was "a horrific collision."
"This tragedy is 100 percent preventable," he said.
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