Troopers identify man whose SUV plunged off bridge into Tampa Bay

Crash on bridge sends car plunging into Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) — Thursday, deputies found the body of a man whose sports utility vehicle plunged into Tampa Bay after it was involved in a crash on a bridge that connects Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The Florida Highway Patrol says around 7:30am Wednesday, 30-year-old William Rowland of Tampa was driving a Ford F150 south on I-275 in the inside lane when the driver of a Saturn SUV, 53-year-old Hiran Reis Vaz of Tampa, began to tailgate. Troopers say Reis Vaz moved to the center lane in an attempt to pass and Rowland moved into the center lane to prevent that from happening.

According to investigators, Reis Vaz moved back into the inside lane and attempted to pass Rowland. That’s when troopers say Rowland moved back into the lane and the rear left of his vehicle collided with the front right side of the SUV.

Rowland’s truck rotated into the center concrete wall while the SUV went to the outside shoulder, overturning multiple times and over the outside concrete barrier of the Howard Frankland Bridge, plunging into Tampa Bay.

The Florida Highway Patrol says the SUV was heading south on the Howard Frankland Bridge “in a reckless manner” about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. It hit a pickup truck, the flipped a number of times and rolled into the water.
The Florida Highway Patrol says the SUV was heading south on the Howard Frankland Bridge “in a reckless manner” about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. It hit a pickup truck, the flipped a number of times and rolled into the water. (Source: FL511)

The crash caused a huge rush hour traffic snarl.

Rowland wasn’t injured. Divers and boats responded to search for Reis Vaz, but he wasn’t found inside the SUV or seen coming out of the water. Thursday, Reis Vaz’s body was found by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit.

Troopers continue to investigate the crash and say charges are pending.

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