Driver in Wrong-Way Crash that Killed 5 Was Intoxicated
A wrong-way driver who killed himself and four University of South Florida fraternity brothers in a fiery head-on collision last month on Interstate 275 had a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit, according to an autopsy released Monday.
The report from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office showed that Daniel Lee Morris' blood-alcohol level was 0.20 at the time of the February 9th crash. Under state law, a driver is considered impaired at a level of 0.08 or above.
Morris, 28, also had a low level of cannabis in his blood when he sped south in I-275's northbound lanes, before crashing his friend's 2001 Ford Expedition into a 2010 Hyundai Sonata.
Reports released Monday showed that the collision killed Morris and the four men in the Sonata: Jobin Joy Kuriakose, 21, of Orlando, Ankeet Harshad Patel, 22, of Melbourne, Imtiyaz Ilias, 20, of Fort Myers, and Dammie Yesudhas, 21, of Melbourne.
Morris' car then burst into flames, hampering identification of his body.
The Tampa Bay Times reports Morris' family and friends still aren't sure what caused him to leave his Seminole Heights house and take the SUV of his house mate, Scott Enfinger, without permission.
"That doesn't sound like Danny," said Morris' mother, May Matthews, who lives in St. Clair Shores, Mich. "Something must have happened down there. He never would have driven the car if he was drinking that much."
In a 911 call after Morris drove off, Enfinger's fiancee told police Morris had taken the vehicle after "something went out of control" at her birthday party. "We'd all had a few drinks," the fiancee, Christina Baker, told police, "and all of a sudden he took the keys and left, out of nowhere." She said Morris had "one or two" drinks, "but as far as I know he'd been fine the entire night." She said Morris may have "been under some pressure." She did not elaborate, and neither she nor Enfinger could be reached to comment Monday. Morris' mother said she does not know what may have been bothering her son. "I don't know," Matthews said. "I may never know."
Florida Highway Patrol officials are continuing their investigation.