2 wrong-way crashes leave 11 people dead in Florida, California

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by CBS News & AP

The Associated Press

Posted on February 10, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 10 at 12:55 PM

TAMPA, Fla. -- A sport utility vehicle traveling the wrong way on a Florida interstate collided head-on with a sedan early Sunday, killing five people, including four University of South Florida fraternity brothers, authorities said.

The accident happened on Interstate 275 in Tampa around 2 a.m. Sunday. The SUV was going the wrong way and hit a Hyundai Sonata, which was carrying four members of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity. The SUV driver was also killed.

Four members of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity at the University of South Florida, who authorities say were killed in a wrong-way crash when an SUV hit the car they were in, Feb. 9, 2009, Dammie Yesudhas, upper-left, Jobin Kuriakose, upper-right, Imtiyaz "Jim" Ilias, bottom-left, and Ankeet Patel.
Facebook, WTSP-TVAuthorities identified the fraternity brothers as Jobin Joy Kuriakose, 21, Ankeet Harshad Patel, 22, Imtiyaz "Jim" Ilias, 20, and Dammie Yesudhas, 21. Florida Highway Patrol officials said they were struggling to identify the male SUV driver late Sunday because of extensive injuries from the fire.

University president Judy Genshaft said in a statement the counseling center will be available to help students struggling with the loss.

"Mere words cannot convey the depth of shock and sadness this terrible event brings to all who knew and cherished these wonderful young men," Genshaft said. "Our hearts are heavy at the loss of such bright, energetic and optimistic young people who had promising futures ahead of them; to have their lives cut tragically short betrays our sense of fairness and security."

Sigma Beta Rho is planning an on-campus memorial service later in the week.

Authorities said they were investigating the collision.

The highway was closed for several hours following the crash.At a roadside vigil and makeshift memorial for the victims, one person told CBS Tampa affiliate WTSP-TV, "God knows how we're going to come up through all this. We lost four lives – they are really the future of this country."

Investigators were trying to learn whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash, WTSP says.

Also early Sunday, a wrong-way driver on a Southern California freeway was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after causing a pre-dawn crash with multiple vehicles that left six people dead, says CBS Los Angeles station KCBS-TV.

Click here to read more at CBSNews.com.

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