Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Police identify family of three killed in fiery Selmon Expressway crash

TAMPA — The three people who died in a fiery wreck Thursday were all members of a New Tampa family, Tampa police said Saturday.

Luiz Felipak, 41, was the driver of the Hyndai sedan that was hit by a speeding 2014 Kia on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

Police tentatively identified the other two victims, pending DNA results, as Rita Felipak, 29, and the couple's daughter Giorgia, 8.

They lived, according to the police report, in a gated condominium complex in Tampa Palms North section of New Tampa.

Earlier Saturday, Amber Nicole Perera, the 29-year-old Kia driver, made her first appearance in court. She was charged after the crash with DUI manslaughter.

Perera, of Brandon, will be held in Hillsborough County Jail without bail until at least Wednesday, a circuit judge decided. She will next appear in court Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing, where a bail could be set. Perera has hired a private attorney, Tampa's Hubble Lawson.

"Obviously this a very sad situation," Lawson said as he and the family exited the courthouse Saturday morning. "There's no question it's a tragedy."

Lawson said he had just started working on the case and declined further comment until the pre-trial hearing.

Family and friends of Perera came to court Saturday morning but declined to speak with reporters.

They watched, and some cried, as Perera stood before the judge through a video conference. She was handcuffed and wearing a jail-issued gray sack dress.

Violet Perera of Riverview, the woman's grandmother, has told the Tampa Bay Times that her granddaughter had a seizure right before the crash at 4:12 p.m. Thursday. But Perera's arrest report made no mention of a medical emergency.

The report did say Perera admitted using prescription medications Ativan and Lexapro. Both substances are commonly prescribed for anxiety; Ativan is also used to control seizures.

Perera was passing other eastbound vehicles, police say, when she lost control of her Kia and hit a Hyundai sedan, sending it through the expressway median and into the westbound lanes. A Jeep and an Infiniti sport utility vehicle hit the sedan before it burst into flames.

Perera continued to drive and was arrested about 21/2 miles away from the crash, which shut down the expressway for 10 hours.

Perera faces three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of a crash involving death and destruction of evidence.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

Police identify family of three killed in fiery Selmon Expressway crash 08/12/17 [Last modified: Sunday, August 13, 2017 12:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Protests at hotel before NFL owners open fall meetings

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — A pair of protests preceded the opening of the NFL's annual fall meetings, where owners and players are seeking a way to highlight social issues while taking the focus away from demonstrations during the national anthem.

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  2. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Officials caution residents regarding storm debris removal

    Briefs

    As the Pasco County Solid Waste Department and its contractors continue to remove debris left behind by Hurricane Irma, residents are reminded that the free removal does not include picking up new, green vegetation.

  4. Trump issues warning to McCain after senator's 'half-baked' comment (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a warning shot after Republican Sen. John McCain questioned "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in America's foreign policy, saying "people have to be careful because at some point I fight back."

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, accompanied by Chair of the National Constitution Center's Board of Trustees, former Vice President Joe Biden, waves as he takes the stage before receiving the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. [Associated Press]
  5. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code

    Banking

    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]