On Tuesday, January 29th, a man from Brandon lost his life in a
car accident that resulted in a vehicle fire. Interstate 75 was closed for several
hours near Martin Luther King Boulevard following a multi-car accident
also involving a tractor trailer, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to the crash on I-75. As emergency
responders arrived at the crash scene, they discovered a total of five
cars and one semi-truck were involved. One of the cars had become fully
engulfed in flames.
According to the FHP troopers, 34-year-old Alexander J. Nealy of Apollo
Beach was driving the semi-trailer for Davis Transfer Co. out of Carnesville,
Georgia. Nealy failed to stop in heavy traffic, producing a chain reaction
affecting five other vehicles.
Just a few minutes after the collision, the first car stuck by the tractor
trailer, a five-door (hatchback) 2005 Toyota driven by Henry J. Focht,
age 60, caught fire, the FHP said. Focht died at the scene of the fiery
accident. The driver of the semi-truck was not injured, according to the
FHP. A driver and passenger in a 2013 Nissan four-door suffered only minor
injuries: 28-year-old Tara M. Gumola of Irwin, Pennsylvania and 26-year-old
Robert Hunter of Herminie, Pennsylvania.
In addition, a 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy from Riverview suffered
minor injuries in the pileup. They were riding in a 2009 Toyota SUV driven
by their father, John Herbstritt, age 30. The crash remains under investigation.
It was not made clear whether any traffic citations were issued. FHP did
not specify why the large truck failed to stop in time.