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Tampa Man Killed in I-75 Car Fire

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Posted on February 4, 2014

On Tuesday, January 29th, a man from Brandon lost his life in a car accident that resulted in a vehicle fire. Interstate 75 was closed for several hours near Martin Luther King Boulevard following a multi-car accident also involving a tractor trailer, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to the crash on I-75. As emergency responders arrived at the crash scene, they discovered a total of five cars and one semi-truck were involved. One of the cars had become fully engulfed in flames.

According to the FHP troopers, 34-year-old Alexander J. Nealy of Apollo Beach was driving the semi-trailer for Davis Transfer Co. out of Carnesville, Georgia. Nealy failed to stop in heavy traffic, producing a chain reaction affecting five other vehicles.

Just a few minutes after the collision, the first car stuck by the tractor trailer, a five-door (hatchback) 2005 Toyota driven by Henry J. Focht, age 60, caught fire, the FHP said. Focht died at the scene of the fiery accident. The driver of the semi-truck was not injured, according to the FHP. A driver and passenger in a 2013 Nissan four-door suffered only minor injuries: 28-year-old Tara M. Gumola of Irwin, Pennsylvania and 26-year-old Robert Hunter of Herminie, Pennsylvania.

In addition, a 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy from Riverview suffered minor injuries in the pileup. They were riding in a 2009 Toyota SUV driven by their father, John Herbstritt, age 30. The crash remains under investigation. It was not made clear whether any traffic citations were issued. FHP did not specify why the large truck failed to stop in time.