TAMPA -- Five people were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tampa on Wednesday night.
Among the dead include two children -- ages 9 and 10. A 15-year-old and an 18-year-old victim who were also in the same car are in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital.
Florida Highway Patrol identified all of the victims in the crash Thursday morning.
The crash occurred at 9:47 p.m. on MLK Jr. Blvd. at Coconut Palm Drive when the driver of a Volkswagen Golf, -- 22-year-old Pablo Cortes, III -- was speeding when he lost control of his car and went into oncoming traffic headed eastbound on MLK Jr. Blvd.
Cortes and 19-year-old passenger, Jolie Bartolome, were killed at the scene when the car slammed nearly head-on with a Toyota Sienna van driven by 39-year-old Marianella Murillo. The Sienna then burst into flames. Three children: 9-year-oldJohn Bernal, 10-year-old Isabell Bernal, 15-year-old Luisa Louisa, and 18-year-old Lina Bernal were in the van when it caught fire.
The crash happened late Wednesday night but the conversation hasn’t stopped on social media all day as rumors spread that the driver responsible was street racing. Nasty comments were being made way before anything was confirmed.
“He was a super nice guy. No one had anything bad to say about him” says Erick Hernandez, a friend of Pablo Cortes.
Many people have something to say about Pablo Cortes trashing him on social media for street racing, something officials and friends say wasn’t the case.
“People will jump to conclusions. They see a fancy car and they assume street racing. People need to know this was an accident. Accidents happen,” says Hernandez.
Cortes was speeding; but speeding and racing, his friends say, are two different things and they say the comments being made don’t help anybody whose loved ones are no longer here.