Hillsborough County
Chad Chronister, Sheriff
Tampa, FL
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    Release Number: 16-034

    • For Immediate Release:
    • Public Information Office of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
    • January 29, 2016
    • Contact Person:
    • Public Information Office : piooffice@hcso.tampa.fl.us
    • 813/247-8060

    Pedestrian Fatality

    Two students were killed on Thursday in traffic crashes.
    • Thursday
    • January 28, 2016
    • Time: 8:53 PM
    • Gunn Highway/ Nixon Road

    Pedestrian:

    Emily Cynthia Lopez 
    DOB: 04/27/98
    5417 Marlwood Ct.
    Tampa, FL 33624
    Student at Tampa Bay Tech

    Vehicle #1:

    • 2003 Nissan Altima

    Driver:

    Melody A. Suarez
    DOB:09/17/67
    4302 Gunn Hwy #208 
    Tampa, FL 33618

    Passenger:

    Elijah M. Grant
    DOB: 11/07/76
    Same Address

    Vehicle #2

    • 2005 Lexus ES330

    Driver:

    Jillian C. Benabe
    DOB: 05/04/87
    10645 Rosemount Dr.
     Tampa, FL 33624

    Details:

    On January 28, 2016 at 8:53 pm, the pedestrian, Emily Lopez, was crossing Gunn Hwy, southbound, in the crosswalk, wearing all black, and against a no walk signal. Melody Suarez was driving her Altima eastbound on Gunn Hwy in the left through lane, facing a steady green signal. Ms. Suarez did not see the pedestrian until she struck the pedestrian with her driver side mirror. Jillian Benabe was driving her Lexus and also was eastbound on Gunn Hwy behind and in the same lane as the Altima.  As the Altima swerved right, Ms. Benabe saw the pedestrian directly in front of her.  She attempted to swerve left but struck the pedestrian before she could turn the wheel. After impact, Ms. Benabe lost control of the Lexus and spun counter clockwise onto the north shoulder of westbound Gunn Hwy. The pedestrian came to rest within the intersection near the median of Gunn Hwy on the east side of the intersection. The Altima came to rest along the south shoulder of eastbound Gunn Hwy. The pedestrian died at the scene. Neither driver is suspected of drugs or alcohol; however, both drivers consented to blood draws. None of the vehicle occupants were injured.


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