Crime

Teenager arrested after man dies in fiery tanker crash on Interstate 75 in Sarasota

Interview with widow of truck driver killed in crash on I-75 in Sarasota

The driver of the tanker, 53-year-old Robert Drewelus, was declared dead at the scene of the crash on Interstate 75 in Sarasota early Tuesday. His wife said they were about to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
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The driver of the tanker, 53-year-old Robert Drewelus, was declared dead at the scene of the crash on Interstate 75 in Sarasota early Tuesday. His wife said they were about to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

SARASOTA -- A man is dead and a 16-year-old boy has been arrested after a crash involving a tanker semi loaded with gasoline that burst into flames early Tuesday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A tanker loaded with 8,500 gallons of gasoline was southbound on Interstate 75 in Sarasota at 3:01 a.m. Tuesday, traveling in the outside lane, according to a release. A Volvo S80 driven by 16-year-old Nicholas Hermes Cain was traveling directly in front of the tanker.

The front of the tanker struck the rear of the Volvo and veered into the west shoulder of the highway, troopers said. It overturned and burst into flames.

The driver of the tanker, of Robert D. Drewelus, 53, of St. Petersburg, was flung from the vehicle and pronounced dead on scene. It is unknown if he was wearing a seat belt.

Cain, of Lakewood Ranch, fled the scene with a 15-year-old passenger in the car. The Volvo was later located at the Gateway Lakes Apartment near Cattleman Road, accord

ing to the report. Cain was located at a Lakewood Ranch residence at 7:02 a.m.

Cain was charged with leaving the scene of a crash with death, which is a second-degree felony, and violating a learner's permit restriction.

Drivers under 18 years old in Florida are subject to a curfew.

The crash remains under investigation. The crash closed the entirety of I-75 southbound for a few hours, and the outside lane was still closed into the afternoon.

Summerlin Schlemmer, 15, learned early Tuesday of Cain's arrest.

"I was really shocked, but I'm still kind of confused with it on how it all happened," Summerlin said.

The sophomore at Lakewood Ranch High said she's not close to Cain but has many mutual friends with him.

"I've heard that he's very, very caring, and he's a great friend to others," she said, "and he's really funny."

Sierrah Dipaolo, who used to attend Lakewood Ranch High, echoed Cain's ability to make others laugh.

"He's really funny and likes to talk a lot," the 16-year-old wrote in a Facebook message to a Bradenton Herald reporter. "He always seems to be smiling, at least when I talked to him."

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