APOLLO BEACH, Fla (WFLA) — Tim Smith and his crew of restoration workers were on their way to work in Brandon on Sunday morning when they witnessed the unthinkable.
They were heading northbound on I-75 near the Apollo Beach Exit when a Jeep heading southbound got into trouble. Andre Wright was the first to see a white flash.
“I seen her tire blow. The back tire blow and then she swerved twice and then immediately went into the ditch and the car flew up into the air and it just started launching kids out.” said Wright, who has children of his own.
Wright and his co-worker, Emmanel Dizon sprung into action, running across the interstate to help. Wright first saw one of the children dangling from a tree.
“The little girl I went for, she was hanging 10-15 feet in the tree by her feet. Just arms dangling. I wiggled the tree to get her out. ”
Florida Highway Patrol troopers are investigating the accident and tell us 28-year old Jessica Guevara was operating the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the tire blew. She lost control and the SUV went into a ditch. Troopers say only two of the seven occupants of the vehicle were buckled in. Guevara was ejected and died at the scene.
Six children were injured, three of the children are Guevara’s, the others are her nieces.
Her children are identified as 1-year old Daviyon Regino, 2-year old Daliza Regino and 7-year old Kiyana McBride. Troopers tell us the other children who were hurt are 9-year old Ulitza Trujillo, 10-year old Yeneli Trujillo and 11-year old Lila Trujillo.
Victor Regino and his wife Sara stopped by the accident scene several hours after it was cleared to see if they could gather up any belongings. They found one of Jessica’s shoes, a pacifier and her apron from work.
The couple said they’re trying to stay strong for other family members. They describe Jessica as a loving mother who was trying to make ends meet. “(Very caring, she did everything for the kids. She was having a rough time of it, but she was going to take the kids to my brother’s house so he could babysit while she went to work,” said Regino. “And her tire blew out and unfortunately she’s not with us anymore. ”
Guevara worked at the Sun City Diner in Sun City Center. No one answered the phone at the restaurant and several people leaving refused to comment. On the restaurant’s Facebook page, a note was left to patrons apologizing for closing early due to a “family emergency.”
Smith and his crew ate at the Buffalo Wild Wings on Sunday night. They talked about what they witnessed and reflected on how it will affect their lives.
Dizon believes witnessing this tragedy may have created a bond between the men that will never be broken. “We were just eating dinner in there now and I told these guys a situation like this we will never forget,” said Dizon. “It will keep this group bound together. ”