Uber experience, telephone dropped and a pair of lives misplaced on Tampa exit

TAMPA – Tracy Carson and Daniel Whitfield have been strangers when Carson picked up Whitfield at his St. Petersburg dwelling round dawn on a Monday morning in July.

Whitfield was headed to Tampa Worldwide Airport to catch a flight to Washington, DC Carson, who additionally lives in St. Petersburg, was the Uber driver who confirmed up when he hailed a experience.

They’re going to have lots to speak about: Six kids between them, the youngest Whitfield celebrating his first birthday. His work as a copywriter and his just lately printed debut novel. Carson within the US Air Pressure and world journey.

At about 7 am, they crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge and Carson was stopped for site visitors backed up on the exit ramp from Northbound Interstate 275 to State Street 589 and Kennedy Boulevard. That is when the driving force of a pickup truck crashed into the again of a Toyota Camry that Carson was driving, troopers stated.

Carson, 53, and Whitfield, 39, each died on the scene.

Now a consultant of their property has filed a wrongful loss of life lawsuit towards the pickup driver and the corporate he labored for that day, claiming their negligence triggered the accident.

The loss of life seems to be one other cautionary story in regards to the risks of distracted driving: In response to the crash report, the pickup driver instructed troopers he had dropped his telephone and was attempting to retrieve it when the crash occurred.

A separate path results in St. Pete

Daniel John Whitfield had some massive targets for his life – to be a printed writer and have an enormous household. He did each.

Daniel John Whitfield, pictured in household picture. [ Courtesy Nena Whitfield ]

Whitfield was born in Birmingham, England, and had a wide range of tastes as a baby. He beloved skilled wrestling, Star Wars and GI Joe, however by 14 additionally had a photograph of conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on his wall, based on his obituary. He sang and acted at school musicals, Shakespearean performs and operas.

After receiving his diploma from the College of Nottingham, Whitfield was awarded a scholarship to attend the College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, the place he studied American and Japanese Historical past and taught English historical past as a educating assistant. He didn’t wish to keep in the US, however moved to Washington, DC, for an internship and to fulfill the lady he would marry, stated Michael Babboni, an legal professional with Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy and Walsh, St. Louis. Petersburg agency representing Whitfield’s widow, Nena.

Quickly after, Whitfield landed a job with Eberle Communications Group, an organization primarily based in McLean, Va., exterior Washington, that gives fundraising and copywriting providers for numerous causes. He and Nena married in 2014 and their daughter Dagny was born the next 12 months.

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The couple fell in love with St. Petersburg and close by bay seashores throughout occasional visits to considered one of Nena’s mates, Babboni stated.

“As Nena defined it, they have been on St. Pete Seashore they usually checked out one another and stated that is the place we wish to be,” stated Babboni. He stated Nena Whitfield was not able to be interviewed.

Dan Whitfield persuaded Eberle to let him work remotely however he must go to firm headquarters twice a month, Babboni stated. That they had a second daughter, Magnolia, in 2018 and moved to St. Petersburg the next 12 months. The third youngster, Zora, turned 1 final month.

Dan Whitfield, left, pictured in a family photo with his wife Nena, right, and their three daughters: Magnolia, in Dan's arms;  Dagny, standing;  and Zora, who turned 1 in August.
Dan Whitfield, left, pictured in a household picture along with his spouse Nena, proper, and their three daughters: Magnolia, in Dan’s arms; Dagny, standing; and Zora, who turned 1 in August. [ Courtesy Nena Whitfield ]

Whitfield’s lifelong ambition was to develop into a printed writer, his obituary stated, and his first novel, “Eagle Ascending,” was printed final 12 months. The e book is a thriller a few New York policeman investigating the lethal bombing of a Jewish museum who learns that his personal grandfather, a disgraced Nazi common, is related to the crime. Whitfield has accomplished his second novel and is due for launch subsequent 12 months.

The morning of the crash, Nena Whitfield discovered it odd that Dan hadn’t despatched the same old textual content message reporting that he had boarded the airplane and was about to depart, Babboni stated. Then a state trooper appeared at their door.

In a public Fb put up every week later, Nena Whitfield recalled how Dan purchased her flowers each time she went to the grocery store.

“I can nonetheless hear him getting back from the shop and saying ‘Hey, Lovely!’ with ‘bump ‘n’ dent’ and pickled beetroot,” he wrote. “And he loves it once I tease him about these random quirks, which make our lives enjoyable.”

In one other public Fb put up in early August, Nena Whitfield stated she was “someplace between despair and the stage of accepting grief as a result of how will you not be depressed should you settle for the truth that Dan is gone.”

He typed that he was not a “quick life-style, die younger.” He eats greens, works out most days and takes dietary supplements. He is a “good boy,” she wrote, so how might this occur?

An obituary for Carson, an Uber driver, says he was on the lookout for a lifetime of journey.

A local of Illinois, Carson enlisted within the US Air Pressure, grew to become a linguist and was stationed in California, Maryland and South Korea. After the Air Pressure, he labored for the federal government and later owned a espresso store. He traveled and lived everywhere in the world, lastly settling in St.

Obituary known as himself robust, good, humorous and type. He beloved the outside and loved scuba diving, skydiving and snowboarding with household and mates. He can speak to anybody he meets, the discover stated.

“Most of all he had a optimistic outlook on life that he did his finest to cross on to everybody round him,” the obituary stated.

Tracy Lynn Carson is depicted in the screenshot of his obituary on
Tracy Lynn Carson is depicted within the screenshot of his obituary on [ ]

Certainly one of Carson’s three kids was a minor and was 16 years previous when the criticism was filed, based on the lawsuit.

Roger Alex, Carson’s companion and consultant of her property, and Alex’s legal professional Brian Elstein declined to remark for this story. Messages left with different Carson members of the family weren’t returned.

‘He dropped his telephone’

The solar was shining on a transparent morning by the point Carson stopped for a line of site visitors on the exit ramp identified for frequent backups.

Howard E. Hientzelmeier, 51 on the time, was behind him in a 2021 Dodge Ram. The pickup was an organization car for Hientzelmeier’s employer Sunrun, a photo voltaic panel firm, based on the wrongful loss of life criticism.

The pickup crashed into the again of the Camry, spinning the automobile round and propelling it right into a concrete barrier and a site visitors signal, based on the preliminary Freeway Patrol accident report. The Dodge then crashed into the rear of a Hyundai sedan, inflicting a series response rear-end collision involving three different automobiles.

Paramedics pronounced Whitfield and Carson useless at 7:14 p.m

Hientzelmeier instructed troopers that “he dropped his cellular phone on the floorboards and was looking for it” on the time of the crash, based on the report. The report stated Hientzelmeier was working the truck in a “careless or negligent method” however he has not been cited or criminally charged as a result of the site visitors murder investigation continues to be ongoing, stated Sgt. Steve Gaskins, Freeway Patrol spokesman.

Carson’s legal professional filed a wrongful loss of life lawsuit on August 4, Whitfield’s on August 17. Each complaints declare Hientzelmeier was negligent and Sunrun can be accountable as his employer. Each estates search a jury trial and unspecified damages.

Hientzelmeier didn’t return voicemails and textual content messages searching for remark. An legal professional representing Sunrun, Inc., Cheryl Wilke, declined to remark.

In response to state knowledge, distracted driving accidents triggered 333 deaths in 2021 — the very best recorded in Florida in at the least eight years. There have been a mean of greater than 1,000 distracted driving accidents every week within the nation final 12 months.

Federal officers view distracted driving as a public well being risk and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention dedicates a web page to the difficulty on its web site.

In the US final 12 months, greater than 3,100 individuals have been killed and about 424,000 have been injured in accidents involving distracted drivers, federal knowledge present. Between 2010 and 2019, about 3,000 individuals died annually in distracted driver crashes, a charge of almost 1 individual every single day.

In April, the Florida Division of Freeway Security and Motor Autos and the Freeway Patrol launched the Put It Down marketing campaign to attempt to discourage drivers from their telephones or different distractions whereas behind the wheel.

“I believe these horrible tragedies will proceed as a result of it would not seem to be individuals are getting the message or it is resonating,” Babboni stated.

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