Man charged with DUI manslaughter in St. Pete double fatal crash

Last Updated: Saturday, November 29, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

A 31-year-old man is charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter in connection to a crash that killed two people Thanksgiving night in St. Petersburg.

The crash happened at Central Avenue and 34th Street around 5:30 p.m.

According to St. Petersburg Police, a 2003 Porsche SUV, being driven by Anthony Apollo Neeley, of Seminole, was eastbound in the curb lane of Central Avenue, approaching the intersection of 34th Street. 

A 2009 Toyota Corolla, occupied by Douglas Simpson, 64, and Christina Simpson, 55, was westbound on Central Avenue and in the process of making a southbound turn onto 34th Street, police said.

The front of the Porsche struck the right side of the Toyota, instantly killing both occupants, police said. The Porsche rolled over several times.

Police said the Simpsons, both of St. Petersburg, were returning home after celebrating Thanksgiving with friends.

Eric Smirnes was out shopping for holiday deals with his family and had just crossed Central Avenue when he heard the collision. He ran to help and said he saw a man get out of the Porsche SUV and try to flee. 

"I told him stay there and I could tell that he wasn't in his right mind," Smirnes said.

He then went to try to help the couple in the other car and he could tell right away there was nothing he could do.

"It was awful," said Smirnes. "I wanted to do something but they were already gone. I feel so terrible for their families to have lost them on Thanksgiving."

Neeley was transported to Bayfront Health St. Pete where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

Neighbors describe the Simpsons as a sweet couple.

They're really good people, very quiet," said Phalecia Boykins. "You know, my grandparents hold conversations with them. Very sweet people, it's very said. The holidays, you know."

Police said Neely had had been involved in another crash at Central Avenue and 58th Street just moments prior, involving 67-year-old Marjorie Sutherland of St. Petersburg.

Police said Neeley fled the scene of the crash at a high rate of speed and two officers, who witnessed Neeley on Central Avenue, estimated his speed to be in excess of 100 miles-per-hour. 

Sutherland said she feels lucky to be alive but her heart goes out to the victims.

"I was going to pick my friend up for Thanksgiving dinner, but when I found out two people have been killed all the joy went out of the holiday," said Sutherland. "I feel like the Lord saved me but why did he have to speed off and kill two innocent people?"

Police said Neeley displayed signs of impairment and during the course of the investigation, his blood alcohol concentration was determined to be over the legal limit of .08. 

Neeley is also charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving attended property, violation of business purpose only driver’s license, operating an unregistered vehicle and operating with no valid insurance.