Crime

Wrong-way driver hits police cruiser in Tampa

TAMPA -- Another wrong-way crash occurred on a Tampa Bay area road early Sunday, and this time, the violating driver collided with a police vehicle.

But no one was seriously hurt.

According to reports, Hilay Whittle 24, was driving her 2010 Mazda 3 around 4 a.m. on N Armenia Avenue at I-275, where the interstate is under construction.

Police said Whittle struck Officer Natasha Stanek on the driver's side of her 2013 Dodge Charger. Officer Stanek had the right of way westbound going across Armenia from the off ramp of southbound I-275, officials said.Whittle is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol but no road side sobriety test could be conducted on scene because of complaints of injury.

Whittle was transported to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries where she was treated and her blood was drawn for testing of alcohol content.

Ofc. Stanek was transported to the hospital by her sergeant to be examined. Ofc. Stanek was later released and is resting at home.

Both cars were totaled. There was an independent witness who was riding in a cab behind Ofc Stanek when she was struck. Charges on Whittle are pending the the results of the blood test.

Armenia is a one-way street that runs south toward South Tampa. Companion roadway Howard Avenue travels in the opposite direction. Construction of a new span for I-275 has created some confusion for drivers about how they're supposed to enter the interstate from Howard or Armenia, but it's not clear if that's what caused the crash.

The Bay area has seen a rash of wrong-way crashes in recent months on or near its freeways, and 11 people have been killed. The most recent fatal crash occurred Sept. 22, when a 25-year-old woman driving the wrong way on I-75 in Pasco County hit a semi-truck.

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