Hillsborough County
Chad Chronister, Sheriff
  • News Releases are to be used for informational purposes only.
    Information provided should not be relied upon for any type of legal action.

    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


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

    Vehicle #1:

    • 2003 Nissan Altima


    Melody A. Suarez
    4302 Gunn Hwy #208 
    Tampa, FL 33618


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

    Vehicle #2

    • 2005 Lexus ES330


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


    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.

  • Sheriff Chad Chronister
    Sheriff Chad Chronister
Sheriff's Operations Center
Sheriff's Operations Center
  • Emergencies
  • 911
  • Non-Emergencies
  • (813) 247-8200
  • Crime Stoppers
  • (800) 873-8477
  • HCSO Telephone Directory
  • Click Here...
Orient Road Jail
Copyright © 2019 Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office all rights reserved.  Terms of Use | Privacy Policy