On February 21, 2014, a head-on crash on Interstate 275 in north Tampa turned deadly when a wrong-way driver slammed into another vehicle. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, this wreck occurred early Friday around 2:35 a.m. Sadly, this wrong-way crash was the second one in Tampa in less than two weeks, and it took place just three miles north of the accident scene that claimed five men on February 9th.
Several people called 911 about the wrong-way driver, reporting a 1993 Honda Civic traveling north in the southbound lanes of I-275. One driver told dispatchers that the Civic driver was traveling in the correct direction before the car made a U-turn and headed north. Unfortunately, police couldn’t reach the driver before he crashed into another vehicle.
Upon impact, the car caught on fire and the wrong-way driver died of his injuries. The driver has been identified as 25-year-old Chase Kaleb Leveille, of Riverview. According to investigators, the front end of the car crumpled and caught on fire after it hit an Enterprise rental truck in the center lane just north of Bearss Avenue.
The truck was driven by Jason D. Lullen, 47, of West Chapel. He and his passenger, 65-year-old Joe N. Smith, of Tampa, escaped serious injuries; however, they were both treated for minor injuries.
According to authorities, wrong-way crashes in Florida only account for three percent of all traffic fatalities. Unfortunately, they are often linked to alcohol or drug use. However, the cause of this recent crash remains unknown at this time, and those who knew Leveille don’t know why he would have driven in the wrong direction.