MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Highway Patrol has released the names of the drivers involved in a wrong-way crash on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge early Friday morning.
Troopers say Shontel Nicole Chase, 29, was driving a 4-door Ford northbound in the southbound lanes of the bridge around 3:45 a.m.
Jon Allen Mitchell, 55, saw Chase heading in his direction and steered his GMC pick-up truck to the right.
Troopers say Chase then steered her car to the left and collided head on with Mitchell’s truck.
Chase died at the scene. Mitchell was taken to Blake Medical Center with critical injuries.
Joseph Finno was driving on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge when it happened. “It was about a quarter to 4, I was heading southbound, noticed all of a sudden these headlights came up on me real quick,” he said.
“They were driving at a very high rate of speed. I tried to honk my horn, tried to do anything, but obviously they were going at a high rate of speed, but they weren’t really swerving or anything,” he said, recalling what happened.
“I’m just glad the guy in the pickup truck wasn’t hurt, sorry the lady passed, but glad the guy in the pickup wasn’t hurt too bad,” he added.
Chase’s stepfather, Clay Lavoie of New Port Richey, calls it a tragic mistake and doubts his stepdaughter was drinking. He said she somehow became disoriented.
Chase’s family is now left to ask how. How could Chase be driving the wrong way on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge? “We just don’t understand what and how this happened,” Lavoie told News Channel 8.
Chase’s family apologized, but at the same time knows, an apology is not enough. “We know that this was not intentional at all, whatsoever,” Lavoie told News Channel 8.
“We want her to be remembered as a good person,” Lavoie said with tears in his eyes. “She’d help anybody.”
Lavoie told News Channel 8 he doesn’t what his stepdaughter was doing in that area at the time of the morning. She had told him she would be planning a party with a friend that was supposed to happen Friday night.
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