TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – We’re learning more grim details about a fiery crash on the Selmon Expressway that killed a child and two adults, and led to the arrest of a 29-year-old Brandon woman.
Amber Perera is accused of leaving the scene of the crash and she faces a litany of charges after she lost control of her car near the Bay to Bay and Euclid exit and “touched off a chain reaction of crashes,” leading to the deaths of two adults and one child, police said.
Witnesses spotted Perera flying at a “high rate of speed,” eastbound on the expressway. They said she tried to pass at least two vehicles going in the same direction, lost control of her vehicle and slammed into the back of a Hyundai occupied by the three victims. The Hyundai then spun out of control through the grass median and into the westbound lanes where it was struck by a Jeep and an Infinity SUV. The vehicle came to a final rest in the westbound lanes and burst into flames, according to police.
Perera left the scene, taking off at a high rate of speed, police said. Law enforcement caught up with her shortly after the crash when her car broke down near Willow Avenue and Platt Street.
Her speech was slurred, and police said she admitted to using anxiety medications Lexapro and Ativan before getting behind the wheel, and she failed a field sobriety test after demonstrating clues of impairment, the affidavit states.
She was taken into custody and transported to Tampa General Hospital where her blood was taken for alcohol testing. When police administered the blood tests, records showed Perera tried to remove her vials of blood and hide them in her underwear, leading police to charge her with tampering with physical evidence.
At a press conference Friday, Don Rogers, a Good Samaritan from Seffner, recounted the horrifying moment he pulled an unconscious driver from the wreckage moments before he died at the scene.
He said the car was filled with so much smoke, he did not notice the adult and the child in the backseat.
“My keys fell out of my pocket next to the car when I pulled my knife out. Later on, one of the firemen, one of the girls had found my keys laying on the ground. My key fab was all melted and burned up, and a couple tags that were on it. Unfortunately, I could not start my truck, I was there for the entire accident and investigation,” said Rogers, describing the temperature in the car.
When asked if his priorities would change had he noticed the child in the backseat, Rogers admits he wasn’t sure what he would do, but also said he couldn’t imagine how he would feel if the child that died had survived and was left without parents.
In the meantime, Perera has been charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of a crash with death, leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury and tampering with physical evidence.
Perera’s partner told WFLA on Friday that the media has the whole story wrong, but she refused to elaborate. She said it would come out eventually.
“It’s a devastating situation and the media has twisted it. It’s not totally accurate but it will come out,” she said.
Perera is due in court for a bond hearing Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
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