Williston man dies after Inglis crash

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By Abdon Sidibe

Special to the Citizen

A horrific-looking crash scene was the result of a three-car wreck Wednesday on U.S. 19 just south of the Levy County line.

According to preliminary information from the Florida Highway Patrol, one vehicle was traveling the wrong way when the crash happened. The driver of the wrong-way vehicle, Ernest E. Rinas, 58, of Williston, died on Saturday at Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

According to the FHP, at 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, for unknown reasons, Rinas was driving his 2002 Chevy southbound on U.S. 19 but in the northbound inside lane just south of the Levy County line. Douglas Steponaitis, 44, of Seffner, and Hobart Bryant, 19, of Largo, were heading northbound in the inside and outside lanes respectively.

Rinas’ vehicle reportedly struck the right front of Steponaitis’ car causing Steponaitis’ car to rotate clockwise and travel into the outside lane. Bryant’s vehicle then hit the rear of Rinas’ car. All three vehicles came to a rest in the center median and northbound lanes. Steponaitis suffered minor injuries and was transported to Seven Rivers hospital and Bryant was unhurt. A toxicology report is pending on Rinas.

According to a Levy County Department of Public Safety report Levy County Fire Station 5 in Yankeetown, Medic 3, Inglis Fire Department, Citrus County Fire Rescue, Nature Coast EMS, and Air Methods LifeFlight of Cross City responded to the scene. Fire crews used hydraulic spreaders, cutters, and rams to free the patient from the wreckage. 

Contact reporter A.B. Sidibe at 352-564-2925 or asidibe@chronicleonline.com.