As Pablo Cortes III sped westbound down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, his girlfriend Jolie Bartolome uploaded a video to Snapchat that displayed their speed: 115 mph. The picture was time-stamped 9:38 pm. Nine minutes later, the 22-year-old Cortes lost control over the vehicle, sending it flying over the median, where it collided with three other vehicles that were traveling in the opposite direction. In all, three adults and two children died in the devastating wreck.
A witness to the accident appeared to be in shock when describing how he watched the VW cross the median and collide with the minivan head-on. The minivan caught fire after the impact. The VW Golf then spun around and hit a Toyota Scion, spewing debris into yet another vehicle. The driver of the minivan lost her life at the scene of the accident. Tragically, two of the children who were passengers of the minivan passed away later at Tampa General Hospital.
Friends and families of the victims are understandably heartbroken. Vigils were held, grief counselors were on-staff at the school the victims attended, and classmates reportedly made cards in remembrance. “I don’t know how we’re going to get through this,” said Gisela Martinez, a cousin of the now-deceased minivan driver.