Florida boy, 14, charged in crash that sends 7 to hospital

Teen's aunt explains why he was driving
Posted at 1:30 PM, Apr 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-17 05:33:42-04

A 14-year-old boy has been charged with driving without a license and causing a traffic crash that injured seven people on Interstate 4 in Tampa Saturday night, authorities said.

The Tampa teenager, whose name is not being released because of his age, was behind the wheel of a 2000 Ford Explorer heading westbound on I-4 near Mile Marker 4 about 7 p.m.

The incident occurred when the driver of the Explorer attempted to change lanes and overcorrected to avoid a collision, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins said in a news release. The Explorer went of out control, left the road and slammed into a barrier wall.

The driver and six others were injured in the single-vehicle crash. The passengers included two adults and four children, ranging from 3 to 16 years old.  

Six people were taken to Tampa General Hospital with serious injuries. They included the 14-year-old driver, Amanda Teresa Rossiter, 32, Louis Gabino Serrano Soto, 34, and three other children.

A 16-year-old from Tampa had minor injuries.

The kids involved are OK and have been discharged. The adults, however, in serious condition.

Parts of I-4 were shut down for several hours. So, why was a 14-year-old behind the wheel? His aunt, Aimee Rossiter, told WFTS-TV they were teaching him how to drive.

"I feel nervous. I feel scared," she said of her family in the hospital.

WFTS-TV is not naming or showing the minors involved in this crash. The teen now faces charges of careless driving and driving without a license. 

"Parents teach their kids to drive everyday," said Rossiter, "Now was it a bad idea to get him to go into the interstate? I feel so."

Rossiter is coming to her nephew's defense.

"It wasn't his first time practicing driving," she said "He didn't do it on purpose. It was truly an accident."

In the middle of all this chaos, she's trying to stay positive.

"Today everybody is stable and they are breathing," said Rossiter.

With a quivering voice and fighting off tears, Rossiter says she's leaning on her faith to stay strong.

"There definitely is a blessing. I could have lost one or some or all of my family," she said.

Detectives still investigating the crash and say additional charges could come.