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Wrong-Way Crash Kills Five on Florida Highway

<p>An SUV travelling south on a northbound lane on a Florida highway was engulfed in flames, and five died at the scene.</p>

Five men were killed when a driver going the wrong way on a highway in central Florida crashed into a car with four passengers early Sunday, officials said.

The Ford Expedition — travelling south on a northbound lane of Interstate 275 in North Tampa — burst into flames after striking a Hyundai Sonata head-on, said the Florida Highway Patrol's Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

All four men in the Hyundai and the wrong-way driver died at the scene, according to a Florida Highway Patrol statement.

The driver in the SUV was a male in his early 20s, but his identity has not been determined yet because his body was severely burned, Gaskins said.

The driver of the Hyundai was identified by Florida Highway Patrol as Jobin Joy Kuriakose, 21. The passengers in the car were identified as 22-year-old Ankeet Harshad Patel, 20-year-old Imtiyaz Ilias and 21-year-old Dammie Yesudhas. All four were members of thefraternity Sigma Beta Rho at the University of South Florida.

"RIP to four of our brothers from Mu Chapter at USF in Tampa. May you rest in peace and remain in remembrance. Please pray for the families," Sigma Beta Rho, a national fraternity, posted in a Tweet.

Kuriakose and Patel, who was sitting behind him, were wearing seatbelts, according to Florida Highway Patrol documents. Yesudhas — who was sitting in the passenger seat — and Ilias were not wearing belts, the documents said.

No other vehicles were affected by the collision, but northbound lanes of I-275 were closed for five hours while the accident investigation was underway.

Investigators do not yet know whether drugs or alcohol were involved, pending toxicology testing, Gaskins said.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, six people were killed and a 21-year-old woman is facing criminal charges after she crashed her car while driving the wrong way on a Los Angeles County freeway while allegedly under the influence early Sunday, Californian authorities said.