TAMPA, FL- According to TampaBay.com, the driver who caused a fatal wrong-way collision on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway was operating his vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration that was greater than three times the legal limit.
Stephen Joseph Paleveda, 27, had a reported BAC of .275 percent when the accident took place. The legal limit is .08 percent. Drivers with a BAC of .08 percent or higher are presumed to be intoxicated. The facts emerged during the pretrial detention hearing on Wednesday, October 24, 2018.
Just after midnight on the day of the crash, the Tampa police had been receiving reports of a reckless driver in South Tampa. Paleveda’s vehicle, a Ford F-350 pickup truck was spotted driving erratically with no headlights, in Tampa’s SoHo neighborhood. Another driver caught the truck driving through red lights, striking a sign and traveling the wrong way on one-way streets. The truck then drove onto Selmon’s westbound lanes in the wrong direction.
Paleveda’s truck hit another vehicle head-on killing the other driver, Bemnet Narongchai, 68. Narongchai, originally from Thailand, lived in South Tampa with his wife. They had recently welcomed a grandchild. The victim is believed to have been leaving work at the late shift when he was killed.
Following the crash, an Uber driver said he saw Paleveda flee the scene. Police found Paleveda with a blood-soaked shirt and only one shoe. He claimed he had no involvement in the crash and reportedly became belligerent. Paleveda was taken to the Tampa General Hospital for treatment. A blood test at the hospital revealed his high BAC.
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