4 Tampa Bay area cities among 10 worst for deadly DUI crashes

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was three years ago when their lives changed forever.

But, for the family of Roger Perez-Borroto, it still feels like yesterday.

The 43-year-old tow truck driver was on the job that day in February 2016, driving along the Howard Frankland bridge from St. Petersburg to Tampa.

Roger spotted some drivers who needed help, so he stopped. That’s the kind of guy he was, say those closest to him. He was always there to help,

The husband and father was killed while doing a good deed.

He was hit by a woman who is now serving time in prison. Allison Huffman was driving drunk that night, hit Roger and then proceeded to the Hard Rock Casino where she gambled for hours

“You are driving a lethal weapon, you’ve pulled the trigger, you’ve cocked that gun,” said fellow tow truck driver, Ginger Darling. 

This is a story Ginger knows well – one that hits close to home.

She considers Roger and his family as her own and loves them dearly. She felt heartbroken when Roger was killed, and she was glad the judge was tough on the driver who caused such pain. 

“You rip that person out of their lives. You destroy an entire familly  He’s got a four-year-old daughter. She’s now about six, maybe seven. She’ll never dance at her daddy’s feet. She will never get walked down the aisle by her daddy,” Ginger told us.

The longtime tow truck driver who owns Nationwide Towing says the latest numbers showing Tampa Bay cities in the top ten for fatal DUI crashes makes her sad, especially for the families involved

“To see them and see how they react, to see the hurt and the pain, the clinching of the fist,the jaws clenching and the eyes tearing up,” said Ginger with a sigh. “It’s something that’s so darn preventable.”

Zarais Perez-Borroto, Roger’s sister, told us, “I struggled a lot. It broke me, it really did break me. Mentally and emotionally.”

Zarais lives in Miami and says she and her family still struggle with the loss of her brother.  She admits that she also felt crushed for Allison Huffman at one point during the court process.  “I looked at her. It was difficult. I saw her break down, and it broke me.”

She added, “There’s times when my family and I are good. But now, after the court process, now is when we’re really mourning. There are moments when I can’t even look at a tow truck without breaking down. But, I try to live my life the way he’d want me to.”

She’s hoping that when people see these latest numbers that they’ll think twice when it comes to drinking and driving.  

“If one person can get the message, just one,” she told us. “My brother wouldn’t want us to be sad. But, sometimes I have to pull over and take a deep breath. I still struggle.”

Below is the complete list as reported by ValuePenguin.com, along with LendingTree.com, along with additional details for Tampa Bay cities.

Worst Large Cities in Florida for Fatal DUIs

 1.    Sarasota: 12.20 deaths per 100,000 residents
“Sarasota is the most dangerous city in Florida for DUI deaths. It had 12.2 deaths per 100,000 residents per year over the last three years, making it nearly twice as deadly on a per-resident basis as the second most dangerous city, Lakeland. The danger of being killed in a DUI death has increased substantially in Sarasota—there were 73% more DUI deaths in the city when compared to the previous three-year period.”

2.    Lakeland: 6.50 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
“The second most dangerous city for DUIs in Florida is Lakeland. While Lakeland and the top-ranked city, Sarasota, each had 19 DUI fatalities from 2015 to 2017, Lakeland’s larger population meant that its per-capita death rate was much lower. Lakeland also had the highest percentage increase in DUI deaths in the entire state: The death rate increased 171% between the three-year period ending in 2017 and the previous three-year period.”

3.    Jacksonville: 5.60 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

4.    St. Petersburg: 4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
“St. Petersburg was 141% more dangerous than the average across the large Florida cities we surveyed. The number of people killed in DUI crashes has increased slightly: between 2012 and 2014, the city had a death rate of 4.36.”

5.    Pensacola: 4.49 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

6.    Orlando; 4.06 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

7.    Tampa: 3.77 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

“While Tampa is the largest city in the Tampa Bay Area, it’s not the most dangerous for DUIs. Its DUI fatality rate of 3.77 put it at No. 7, three spots behind neighboring St. Petersburg. It also had a moderate decrease in deaths over the course of our study. Between 2012 and 2014, there were 48 DUI deaths in Tampa; from 2015 and 2017, that number fell to 38. Tampa was also one of the most expensive cities to buy car insurance in the state.”

8.    Boca Raton: 3.16 deaths per 100,000 residents

9.    Daytona Beach: 2.73 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

10.  Fort Myers: 2.68 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

These Tampa Bay communities made it onto other lists of cities with medium and small populations: Plant City, Temple Terrace, Pinellas Park, Sebring, Gulfport, and Palmetto. Learn more here. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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