St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Errant truck slams into man's bedroom

This was no nightmare. Bob Karm was already awake when a pickup truck ran off the road and into his apartment.

By CHRIS TISCH

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2002


This was no nightmare. Bob Karm was already awake when a pickup truck ran off the road and into his apartment.

LARGO -- Bob Karm was dozing in bed Friday when he heard something rumbling toward his ground-level apartment.

Whatever it was, it was taking things out in the process.

"It sounded like a train," Karm said, unfurling a cliche used to describe everything from hurricanes to semis. But Karm had an addition: "It sounded like a train hitting things."

Then the wall crashed in. Karm's acoustic guitar tumbled past his head. His computer and printer rocketed toward him and clanked against the side of his bed. Compact disks sliced past his face like silver saw blades.

There was a pickup truck in his bedroom.

Karm's Country Club Villas apartment had been struck by a pickup that missed a curve on Country Club Drive. The truck, which police said was going at least 50 mph, glanced off a concrete power pole and plunked a good-sized palm tree out of the soil before blasting into Karm's brick apartment.

Wearing only boxers, Karm, 41, bolted from his bed. He smelled antifreeze and other fluids from the pickup.

He ran to the back of his apartment and told his three young, sleeping children: "Get up, get dressed. We gotta get out. There's a truck in my bedroom."

The pickup driver, Alvin E. Jenkins, 43, of Clearwater, was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center after the 7:30 a.m. crash. He was listed in fair condition Friday evening.

Largo police were investigating why Jenkins missed the curve. Investigators were awaiting results of blood tests to see if alcohol or drugs were a factor.

Karm said he had just hung up his phone after taking an early call from an old friend that morning. He was getting a few more minutes of rest before taking his kids to tae kwon do.

Then he heard the revving of the truck's engine.

After the impact, Karm saw Jenkins, who had head lacerations, climb out of his truck. Residents who had scrambled from their beds helped him. Karm called 911.

Still in his undershorts, Karm couldn't get any clothes because his dresser was covered with rubble. So he put on a black trench coat. Largo firefighters later pulled a pair of jeans from the mess for him to wear.

Because of heavy damage to his computer equipment, Karm was concerned about his online business, which hooks up people seeking home improvement services with Tampa Bay businesses.

He also wasn't sure where his family would stay Friday night or if he would stay in that apartment unit after it's fixed.

But Karm, a divorced father of three, said he felt lucky he and his children were uninjured. He felt fortunate that the pickup was slowed by a pole and tree before it plowed into his apartment.

Karm also was glad he had moved his bed only a few weeks ago. Before, it sat flush with the wall that was hit Friday morning. Had he not moved it, his head likely would have been crushed by the impact.

"I feel pretty lucky," he said. "I've got three kids. If I had been against that wall, they would have been swinging in the wind."

Karm said residents have complained to city officials about accidents along that curve. He said motorists have lost control at least three times in the three years he has lived there.

The cars involved in those mishaps wound up in a river that flows a few hundred feet from Karm's unit.

In fact, when Karm gives friends directions to his apartment, he tells them it's the unit that you would hit with your car if you drove across the grass.

He said the possibility of what happened Friday morning has crossed his mind before; the neighbors who live above him have increased insurance coverage because of that potential, Karm said.

He hopes the city will put up a guard rail to keep Evel Knievels away from his apartment, or at least speed bumps to slow them down.

"We've been talking about this a long time," he said.

- Chris Tisch can be reached at (727) 445-4156 or tisch@sptimes.com.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.