FHP still working to notify next of kin in crash that killed young mom

4:26 PM, Apr 1, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- Traffic along Highway 60 just east of Brandon was flowing normally again, but the eastbound lanes were shut down for close to three hours Monday morning after a terribly sad accident that left a young mother dead.

It happened near the corner of Ware Boulevard and Adamo Drive.

Julian Mesa, a witness, is haunted by an image he just can't shake.

"I see the woman underneath the car," he says, "Oh yes, [it was] very bad."

Shortly after getting to work around 6:30 a.m. Mesa, a driver for Ferman Auto Group near Brandon, heard a commotion along Adamo Drive.

He went to the front of the dealership to check it out and saw the result of a horrific crash.

A 27-year-old woman -- not much older than Mesa's own daughter -- was dead, pinned beneath a red Chevy Monte Carlo.

"It's terrible, yeah," he says shaking his head.

In the back seat of the car, police found the woman's 6-month-old daughter still in her car seat, relatively unharmed.

They were still trying to figure out why the young mother lost control while heading east along Highway 60. For some reason, she'd entered the median, over-corrected, and flipped the car several times in a grassy ditch along the south side of the road.

Investigators say she was thrown from the vehicle; she had taken time to properly restrain her baby, but not herself.

"Very likely could have saved her life if she had been buckled, so yes. Case and point here. One's buckled. One's not. One's alive. One's not," said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

Mesa was looking at pictures of his own grandson on Monday afternoon, including a video taken just a day earlier at a park. He reflected about how in an instant, life can change.

"It's not easy, you know? I saw the woman over there and I thought about my family," he said, "Something could happen. You never know."

The little girl who survived the wreck was taken to Tampa General Hospital for observation.

Investigators say her biological father is currently behind bars, and since the couple was not married, he is not considered the mother's next of kin. His parents -- the baby's grandparents -- will likely take care of the infant, at least for the time being.

FHP will not speculate as to what it was that made the driver lose control.

If any lesson can be taken from this tragic accident, however, it's the importance of buckling-up.

By doing so, according to FHP statistics, wearing one's safety belt reduces the chances of death or severe injury in a crash by more than 50 percent.

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