Tanker Driver Dies in Fiery Crash, Teen Arrested For Fleeing Sceneby Jana Ritter - Published: 3/30/2016
Robert Drewelus was simply doing his job driving a tanker truck with 8,500 gallons of gasoline along the I-75 near Sarasota, Florida early Tuesday morning. Then suddenly he hit a Volvo in front of him and his truck veered off the road and into the median before bursting into flames. The 53-year-old truck driver was ejected and killed, and the two teenagers in the Volvo fled the scene.
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It is still uncertain as to the exact cause of the crash, but it occurred in a construction zone and while one theory is that one or both drivers may have failed to slow down when the marked signs indicated, the truck driver's wife says she was told by an FHP officer that the Volvo had cut her husband off. Regardless of who was at fault, Drewelus is dead and 16-year Nicholas Hermes Cain has been charged with leaving the scene with death, (which is a second degree felony and a violation of a learner license restriction.) Florida Highway Patrol officers had located the teenager’s abandoned car on Cattlemen Road and later found him at a residence in Lakewood Ranch - where he was arrested. His 15-year-old brother was the other passenger in the vehicle and both teens did not suffer any injuries in the crash. “If you’re involved in a traffic crash, you must remain on scene, it’s that simple. The problem is as soon as you leave the scene, you’ve made a bad decision worse. At that point you’ve committed a crime,” says Lt. Greg Bueno of the FHP.
Elsie Nieves-Drewelus says she has been in shock since she got the phone call just after 3 a.m. The FHP told her a trooper was on the way to their family home in St. Petersburg. They didn’t tell her why but as soon as she she turned on the television, she knew. “I saw on TV there was an accident with a tractor trailer and I knew it, my heart told me, my heart told me,” Nieves-Drewelus explains. She says that when the FHP officer arrived, he told her that her husband had been cut off by the other vehicle and had veered off the road to avoid crashing into the back of the car. “He said ‘your husband saved two lives today.’"
Nieves-Drewelus is certain that is what happened and says that her husband was an excellent driver who had been doing his job for 31 years. She had just spent a wonderful Easter with him and they had been planning a cruise for their one-year wedding anniversary on May 4. “My husband was full of life. He didn't have a bad bone in him, my gentle giant. I love my husband very much, and I won't be able to say goodbye to him in the condition of his body,” Nieves-Drewelus says. “I won't be able to touch him and give him his last kiss cause his body can't be viewed in the condition it is in.”