Lutz woman killed by drunk driver on July 4th

9:29 AM, Jul 6, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Harvey Gladden was looking forward to getting home and hanging out with friends Sunday night. After all, it was July 4th.

Not only that, it was a break from summer school for the USF student and his buddies.  They were looking forward to some down time.

Things wouldn't go as planned.

Gladden, his friend Daniel Mayes, and another student, Luis Rivera had spent time together all day Sunday and were on their back from the home of a friend's father. They would not make it back to their apartment.

The young men were involved in a deadly chain-reaction accident. 

Gladden explains how it started, "It was pretty scary, because I looked up, and we ran into the van and everything went black."

Deputies say a man driving a 2003 Nissan pickup truck swerved into the oncoming lane on Van Dyke Road and hit a woman head-on.

42-year-old Gina Villegas was nearly home. The students were driving behind Villegas and did not have time to stop.

"I blacked out for a second, and I woke up and there was smoke in the car," says Gladden.

He woke up and kicked his way out of the car, only to see the body of Villegas being taken out of her 2000 Chrysler van.

33-year-old Albino Martinez was behind the wheel of the pickup truck, deputies say, and was driving drunk.

Gladden talks about the impact of the crash that killed Villegas.

"He hit her so hard that beer cans came out of his truck.  There were beer cans in the street," the student told us.

When we caught up with Gladden at the apartment he shares with his buddies near USF, he explained that he was still sore from the accident.  He was wearing his seat belt, but the airbag deployed.

He still had on his hospital band.

Gladden talked about seeing Villegas and how he felt horrible about what happened to her.

"I saw them pull her out of the van, and she looked pretty lifeless.  I was hoping she wasn't dead, but she looked pretty bad," he said.

Sadly, Gina Villegas was just a few miles from home when police say she was killed.

The 4th was almost over.  It was nearly midnight, and Villegas had no way of knowing she would never make it back to her house. 

We spoke with her brother-in-law by phone who told us, "I'm still trying to figure out what happened and get all the details."

Villegas' brother was flying in from New York to help plan her funeral arrangements.

Meanwhile, Martinez is still behind bars being charged with DUI Manslaughter and two counts of DUI Property Damage. Martinez has a prior criminal history that dates back to 2003.  It includes leaving the scene of a crash and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

He currently resides in New Port Richey.   

Join a discussion with people who knew the victim, Gina Villegas.

Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects

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