photo courtesy of Leda Eaton
By Tamas Mondovics
A four-vehicle crash took the lives of a Riverview couple and seriously injured another on Memorial Day in Brandon.
According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Sanita Sookdeo, 48, of Dover was driving her 2007 GMC Denali southbound on Parsons Ave. at a high rate of speed just before 12 noon in the left lane.
Just ahead of Sookdeo in the same southbound lane, traveling in their 2007 Acura TL at approximately 40 to 45 mph was Richard Crete, 54 and his wife, Tanya, 58, when they where rear-ended by Sookdeo.
Investigators said that Sookdeo’s Denali ramped up over the Acura and continued southeast, more than 500 feet, struck an embankment and went airborne again over Jersey Avenue, before coming to its final rest by hitting a tree on the southeast corner of Jersey Avenue and Parsons Avenue.
A Toyota Corolla, driven by Elliot Acosta, 35, was stopped in the westbound lane of Jersey Avenue and was struck by debris from the Denali.
The Crete’s Acura was redirected southeast, across the northbound (oncoming) lanes of Parsons Avenue and struck the right rear of the fourth vehicle involved with the crash, a Toyota Highlander traveling northbound, driven by Douglas E. Teten, 62.
The Acura came to rest on the east shoulder facing south with severe rear crush damage, deputies said.
Tanya was transported to Brandon Regional Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Richard was transported to Tampa General Hospital where he also died from his injuries.
Sookdeo was transported to Tampa General Hospital with serious injuries.
The drivers of the Highlander and Corolla were not injured.
Traffic Homicide responded to the scene to conduct the investigation. Alcohol or drugs are not expected to be involved at this time. Charges are pending. The investigation continues.
The tragic accident hit the local community hard as both Richard and Tanya were known and loved by many. Richard was the owner of Rich’s Backyard Birds, which he recently relocated from the FishHawk community to its new location in Valrico.
Richard was excited about sharing his birding passion at the new location, a more densely populated area, as well as having signage access on Lithia Pinecrest Road.
He was confident that his FishHawk customers would continue to support him in the new location and would gain new customers along the Valrico corridor.
Both Richard and Tanya will be greatly missed.