The intersection has been under observation by the Florida Highway Patrol and Pasco County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization since August 2015 as an area of road that may need to be upgraded to deal with increased traffic. The organization has proposed widening Gall Boulevard from 4 to 6 lanes starting at the intersection. This expansion will deal with the heavy flow of traffic that leads to a heavy occurrence of auto accidents at the various intersections along the stretch including the intersection at State Road 54 and Eiland Boulevard.
The fatal collision which occurred at the observed intersection, happened at 8:48 am early on Thursday morning, May 26, 2016. Sotomayor was driving his vehicle east along State Road 54. When approaching the intersection, he pulled into the left-hand turn lane, intending to turn left and head North on Eiland Boulevard. Sotomayor was driving a Kia Sorento SUV.
Another driver, Kyle Lee Burgan, a 19 year old resident of Wesley Chapel, approached the intersection at Eileen Boulevard from the opposite direction of Sotomayor. Burgan was driving straight through the intersection in the left-hand lane, heading west on State Road 54 in a Chevrolet pick up truck.
Finally, a third driver involved in the collision, Richard Andre Felipe, a 21 year old resident of Zephyrhills, was stopped at the light in his 2004 Honda sedan. Felipe was in the southbound right-hand turn lane on Eiland Boulevard, in the lane directly next to Burgan.
The state highway patrol reports that Sotomayor turned in front of Burgan’s approaching vehicle, causing Burgan to collide with Sotomayor’s Kia. Currently state troopers have no explanation for why Sotomayor decided to turn in front of the vehicle, though it is clear that he is at fault for the accident, as witnesses report that Sotomayor ran a red light and illegally pulled in front of Burgan’s pick up.
Moments after Sotomeyer turned, his Kia SUV collided with the front end of Burgan’s pickup truck, which caused the SUV to spin out counter clockwise in the intersection. The force of the collision caused Sotomeyer’s SUV to then hit the rear end of Felipe’s Honda, causing physical damage to all three vehicles.
Emergency workers arrived on the scene and took Sotomeyer in an ambulance to the Florida Hospital of Zephyrhills where he was in critical condition. A few hours later, Sotomayor was pronounced dead by hospital staff.
No other injuries were reported by the Florida State Highway Patrol from the collision for either of the two other drivers, Burgan and Felipe.
The collision highlights the need for an expansion at the intersection, because even though the accident was a result of Sotomayor’s illegal turn, the close proximity of the highway lanes resulted in Felipe’s Honda being struck from Sotomayor’s spinning SUV.