A Wesley Chapel man told troopers he had been drinking an hour before he slammed into the back of a disabled vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 75 early Wednesday, injuring six people, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
John Hegarty, 47, is charged with 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.
Hegarty told troopers he took two Xanax pills and drank as many as three beers before the crash, according to FHP. His final beer being consumed about an hour before the 3:30 a.m. wreck, troopers said.
Six people, between ages 17 to 24, were parked on the shoulder of southbound Interstate 75, just south of State Road 56, when Hegarty approached in his red, 2004 BMW.
The six people were outside their cars, a 1997 Honda Civic and 1998 Toyota, about 3:30 a.m. to fix a flat on the Toyota, 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 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 hit the rear of the Honda, and the impact propelled the Honda into the Toyota, the report said. The six people standing between and around the 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.
When troopers arrived at the scene, they described Hegarty as having bloodshot eyes and his clothes in “disarray.”
A Breathalyzer test was performed and Hegarty registered a 0.101, troopers said. The second test was 0.95. The legal limit in Florida is 0.08.
He also failed field sobriety tests performed at the scene, troopers said.
Hegarty, who told troopers he knew his license was suspended, was taken to Spring Hill Regional Hospital, medically cleared and transported to the Land O’ Lakes Jail.
He remains in jail with a $4,500 bond.