Pinellas News

Racing suspected in fatal Tarpon crash; victims ID’d

The victims have been identified in a fatal crash in Tarpon Springs early Saturday morning that police say may have stemmed from racing with a car that left the scene.

The victims’ car became submerged in a pond after the crash, which occurred around 3 a.m. and downed power poles and blocked lanes on U.S. 19, near East Martin Luther King Drive, for hours.

Police identified the driver as Nicholas Ray Osborn, 37, unknown local address. The passenger has been identified as Marco S. Valez, 39, of Clearwater.

Investigators are looking for a white vehicle, reported leaving northbound on U.S. 19, that was involved in racing with the victims’ 1998 two-door silver Mercedes SLK 230. No other information about the vehicle is available, police say.

One witness said he heard a boom, then saw the white vehicle traveling north on U.S. 19 and the victims’ vehicle going airborne over a six-foot fence into the retention pond on the east side of the highway, police said.

An autopsy report has not yet been completed, police say.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Frank Ruggiero at (727) 938-2849.