TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A woman who caused a fiery crash that killed a family of three on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway two years ago has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Amber Perera, 31, pleaded guilty in September to nine charges, including DUI resulting in serious bodily injury, DUI resulting in property damage, reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury, reckless driving resulting in property damage, and evidence tampering.
On Aug. 10, 2017, authorities say Perera was heading eastbound on the expressway, traveling at about 100 mph, and had tried to pass two vehicles before she slammed into the back of a Hyundai carrying Rita Felipak, 29, Luiz, 41, and their 8-year-old daughter Giorgia.
“These were choices the defendant made. She chose to drive 100 miles an hour. She chose to flee the scene. She chose to conceal her conduct and the punishment today reflected the choices she made that shattered two family’s lives,” State Attorney Anthony Warren said.
The crash sent the Hyundai spinning into the westbound lanes of the roadway, where it hit a Jeep and an Infiniti SUV before it landed in an embankment and caught fire.
The family died at the scene after the car became “fully engulfed in flames.”
“You made a statement that I recall from one of the jail phone calls that my life is ruined. Yes ma’am. your life is ruined. But you also ruined a lot of lives and ended three lives,” Judge Christopher Sabella said.
Police said Perera fled the crash and was captured minutes later.
She was charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, hit and run and tampering with evidence after she allegedly tried to hide vials of her blood, which had been drawn as evidence, in her underwear.
Perera initially claimed she had a seizure, but investigators suspected she had been under the influence of prescription drugs.
Tests later revealed her blood-alcohol level was 0.10, and she had marijuana in her system at the time of the crash.
“From day one, she has thought about nobody, nobody but herself. She ended that with her statement on Friday. Everything was about her. Everything was I’m not a monster, please give me a second chance. And I believe she didn’t deserve it and I think that’s what the judge did.,” crash survivor Tracy Kelly said.
Perera had remained at the Hillsborough County Jail without bond ever since.
On Monday, a judge sentenced Perera to 50 years in state prison.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.