No drugs. No alcohol. What caused three people to die in a wrong-way crash on I-75? – Tampa Bay Times

GIBSONTON — Paul O’Neal was driving down a darkened stretch of Interstate 75 on Thanksgiving when he spotted white lights in the center lane ahead of him.

He figured the lights were on a tow truck picking up a stranded car. But when brake lights on the cars ahead of him lit up and darted from side to side, O’Neal realized the white lights weren’t on a tow truck.

They were headlights.

Seconds later, O’Neal watched as a car speeding the wrong way crashed head-on into a southbound sedan.

“It happened right in front of me,” said O’Neal, an airline pilot from Tennessee. “I remember just being dumbfounded as to what was happening and why this was happening.”

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The Florida Highway Patrol would soon release the basic details of that night. Justin Lakin, 21, was driving a Toyota Corolla north in the southbound lanes near Gibsonton Drive when he crashed into a car carrying a young couple.

LaShay Waiters, 24, and fiancee, Yvette Alexandre, 21, who had recently become pregnant, died of injuries, as did Lakin.

It was unclear at the time how and why Lakin started driving the wrong way. Did he get disoriented? Was he intoxicated?

His autopsy found no evidence of drug or alcohol impairment.

A recently completed Highway Patrol investigation report, released to the Tampa Bay Times through a public records request, explains how Lakin wound up driving in the wrong direction: He turned around in the median.

“The burning question is why,” said Robert Alexandre, Yvette’s father. “That may be an answer we’ll never get.”


Lakin was almost home when he crashed.

He lived in Bradenton with his father, John Lakin, a retired circuit judge who now practices law. A family attorney told

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