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Tampa police identify three killed in crash after beer theft


Published:   |   Updated: April 16, 2013 at 06:29 AM
TAMPA -

Police have identified the victims of a Sunday night crash on Columbus Drive that killed three people and left one man in critical condition.
 
The four people stole beer from a convenience store and sped away in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, police said.
 
Steven Edward Cuervo, 41, Tony Elizabeth Faris, 29, and Ashley Helen Thompson, 34, all of Tampa, died after the Jeep struck a concrete wall, flipped and rolled several feet into the westbound lane of Columbus Drive, near Mantanzas Avenue.
 
A fourth person in the SUV, Kenneth Edward Crouse, 41, was in critical condition Monday at St. Joseph's Hospital.
 
Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said it took investigators nearly 24 hours to identify the victims because of “the condition of the bodies” following the crash.
 
Relatives of Crouse and Thompson declined to comment on Monday. Family members of Cuervo and Faris could not be reached for comment.
 
Police could not interview Crouse on Monday because he was sedated, Davis said.
 
His injuries are not life-threatening.
 
The four occupants of the Jeep had just left a 7-Eleven at 3434 W. Columbus Drive about 8 p.m. after stealing several cases of Natural Light beer, Davis said.
 
The Jeep was traveling recklessly at a high rate of speed and tried to pass another vehicle, a Toyota truck, when it struck the concrete wall and crashed.
 
The driver and the three passengers were not wearing seat belts, investigators said.
 
The Jeep belonged to one of the victims' relatives, Davis said.
 
Police have not yet identified who was the driver.
 
The Toyota's driver, Lorenzo Monteagudo, saw the Jeep approaching from behind and quickly got out of its path, police said.
 
Monteagudo was not hurt but told WFLA he tried to aid a woman who was thrown out of the Jeep during the crash.
 
“I immediately went to check on the female that was ejected,” Monteagudo told the television station. “Checked for pulse. She was still alive. She was in rough shape.”
 
The woman, believed to be the driver, was also taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where she died. The other two people died at the scene, police said.
 
Crouse has been arrested eight times in Tampa since 1999 on charges ranging from dealing in stolen property, grand theft and panhandling, jail records show.
 
Cuervo has been arrested eight times since 1996 on charges that include battery and DUI.
 
Faris has been arrested four times since 2006 on possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended or revoked license while Thompson has been arrested 11 times on charges that include forgery, grand theft, driving with a suspended or revoked license and drug possession.
 
rreyes@tampatrib.com
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