TAMPA — A 20-year-old man was killed instantly when a car driving the wrong way on Interstate 275 crashed head-on into his car, shutting down the road for nearly four hours early Thursday and sending three others to the hospital, officials said.
William Brooks Angel, 20, of Wesley Chapel was driving north on I-275 with two friends in a 2000 Ford Mustang just before 3 a.m. near the Interstate 4 interchange.
A 2012 Ford Fusion, driven by Christopher Ponce, 22, of Tampa was headed south — on the wrong side of the highway, state troopers said.
Both cars were driving in the center lane when they collided head-on.
Angel was killed on impact.
His two passengers, Robert Patrick Newberry, 22, of Lutz and Jay Davis, 20, of Wesley Chapel were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital with serious injuries.
Ponce was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He was listed in serious but stable condition Thursday afternoon.
No one involved in the crash was wearing a seat belt, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
In the hours that followed, all northbound lanes I-275 were closed near the downtown Tampa exit as troopers investigated the crash and swept the scene, causing severe traffic problems from St. Petersburg and into Tampa.
The road was reopened once debris was cleared and troopers concluded their investigation of the scene just after 6:45 a.m.
Angel was a 2010 graduate of Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel, according to his Facebook page.
“William was a great kid,” said Wiregrass Ranch principal Ray Bonti. He remembered William was an honors student and an officer in the ping pong club.
“This is very sad news for us at Wiregrass Ranch. Our hearts go out to William’s family.”
It was not immediately clear how or why the Ford Fusion ended up going the wrong way.
Ponce has been accused of dangerous and careless driving several times since 2006, according to court records. His license was suspended as recently as last year, records show.
An investigation is ongoing.
Marissa Lang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3386.