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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Troopers: DUI driver hits stopped cars on I-75, injuring six fixing tire

Six people, ages 17 to 24, attending to a flat tire in the outside lane of Interstate 75 in Pasco County were seriously injured early Wednesday after a car driven by a drunk driver plowed into their vehicles, troopers said.

John Hegarty, 47, of Wesley Chapel, faces charges of driving under the influence, driving with a suspended or revoked license, violation of a business-purposes-only restriction and failing to drive in a lane.

The six youths were outside their cars, a 1997 Honda Civic and 1998 Toyota, about 3:30 a.m. to fix the flat on the Toyota on southbound I-75, just south of State Road 56, troopers said.

The Honda was behind the Toyota in the travel lane, and the cars’ emergency flashers were on, Sgt. Steve Gaskins of the Florida Highway Patrol said. A construction barrier was on the shoulder of the outside lane, Gaskins said.

Hegarty was driving a 2004 four-door BMW south on I-75 in the outside lane approaching the stopped cars, according to a highway patrol report. He attempted to change to the outside center lane but failed to maintain control of the BMW, the report said.

The BMW’s front right hit the rear left of the Honda, and the impact propelled the Honda into the Toyota, the report said. The six people standing between and around their cars were struck by the colliding vehicles, the report said.

Brittany Vaughn, 19, Erica Berry, 22, and Mariya Peterman, 17, were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. Jerrick Vann, 24, Nagy Ferguson, 24, and Kenneth Collins, 19, were transported to Tampa General Hospital. All sustained serious injuries, troopers said.

Hegarty had a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.10, troopers said. The legal limit in Florida is 0.08.

Hegarty reported minor injuries, according to the highway patrol report.

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