Drivers identified in double fatal wrong-way I-275 crash

By Dalia Dangerfield and Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, February 12, 2016, 6:06 PM EST

The Florida Highway Patrol has released the names of the drivers killed in Friday morning's double-fatal wrong-way crash in Tampa.

Troopers say Larry Lorenza Thompson, 47, of Tampa and Eugene M. Fischer, 65, of San Antonio, both died when Thompson's Acura TL collided with Fischer's GMC Envoy SUV on the I-275 Ashley Drive ramp just after 5:30 a.m.

According to troopers, Thompson drove northbound in the southbound lanes of the I-275 Ashley Drive ramp and collided head on with the GMC. Neither driver was wearing a seat belt, authorities said.

There were no other passengers in the vehicles.

The southbound lanes of the I-275 Ashley Drive exit ramp were closed for about four hours Friday morning, creating traffic backups on I-275 and I-4.

Witnesses said the wrong-way vehicle may have entered the interstate at Howard Avenue before crashing near Ashley Drive. However, that is still being investigated, Sgt. Steve Gaskins said.

It is currently unknown if alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.

911 calls before and after the crash

At least one other driver this morning saw Thompson driving in the wrong direction on I-275. In fact, she was almost a victim of a crash with Thompson herself.

"I saw a bright light and once I realized what it was, I saw that it was two headlights coming in my lane directly at me," says Abby Brundage, a local DJ who was on her way to work when she almost collided with Thompson. "Thank God he didn't hit me."

Brundage was able to get over and called for help.

Subsequent calls to 911 came after the crash. One caller could be heard trying to help officers on scene get to one of the victims still trapped in his car.

"Officer, do you have a hammer?" the caller can be heard saying. "Let me use your baton. I need to break this so I can get the doors unlocked on the other side."

Troopers say they are aware of other locations along 275 where Thompson was driving in the wrong direction. They are currently trying to figure out where he would have exited or re-entered the roadway.