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Police: Man dead after car crashes, overturns in Hillsborough River

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Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 05:14:43-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa police say a man is dead after his car swerved off the road and into the Hillsborough River.

ABC Action News reporter Anthony Hill spoke with residents who saw and heard what happened and some of them say the car was going really fast right before it plunged into the river.

“I was in the house doing paperwork and I actually heard the car coming because it was so loud. I knew it was coming fast,” said Lee Oken, resident of the Bowman Heights neighborhood.

Other residents in the Bowman Heights neighborhood say drivers usually follow the road rules around there.

Victor DiMaio is the president of the Bowman Heights neighborhood and he says driving fast in that area is very dangerous.

“The river does take a sharp turn right near where this accident took place,” DiMaio said.

Neighbors say a white sedan was speeding down a narrow and curvy section of North Rome Avenue.

Frank de la Grano was celebrating Father’s Day with his dad when they saw what happened.

“Once it went in the water, we kind of jumped up and drove over there to try to see if we could help.”

He says once he got over there, there were a few people already in the water trying to save the driver.

“We tried to get the doors open and we weren’t able to get the doors open because the car was upside down.”

He says it wasn’t until Tampa Police came that they were able to make some progress.

“About eight or nine guys got behind it and we were able to flip the vehicle.”

However, the driver had already died.

“It happened very quick and unfortunately we weren’t able to help.”

One resident says he’s just thankful no one else was hurt. He told me a lot of people walk and fish along the banks of the Hillsborough River.

“Right where he went over, there’s always people fishing right on that wall,” said Lee Oken.

Officers say the cause of the accident could be alcohol-related, however, residents we spoke with say they saw another car going just as fast behind the one that went into the river, but it never stopped after the accident.