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Driver fined, loses license in fatal crash

A mother of two was killed in the accident at an intersection. The 70-year-old man must pay $1,000.

By CHRIS TISCH, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 20, 2002


A mother of two was killed in the accident at an intersection. The 70-year-old man must pay $1,000.

CLEARWATER -- A man who caused an April 4 car crash that killed a Clearwater mother of two has been fined $1,000 and stripped of his license for a year.

William T. Hemple, 70, pleaded no contest Friday to noncriminal citations of careless driving, running a red light and not wearing a seat belt in the crash that killed Cindy Kratochwill, 44. In addition to the fine and license revocation, Hemple also was ordered to attend advanced driving school, court records show.

"I just hope he has learned something and that this doesn't happen to anyone else because of him," Kratochwill's husband, Rodney Kratochwill, said Monday.

Hemple, of Tavares, was driving a Lincoln Town Car on April 4 when he struck a car stopped at a red light, then accelerated and barreled through the intersection of Eastland Boulevard and McMullen-Booth Road.

His car struck a car driven by Cindy Kratochwill, who was driving her two daughters, 12-year-old Lindsey and 9-year-old Chelsey, to skating practice. Kratochwill's car flipped and landed on its roof. She died in the crash. Her daughters were injured but survived.

Clearwater police investigated the crash for two months, trying to figure out why Hemple was going through the intersection at about 50 mph, twice the speed limit.

Hemple, who was hospitalized with serious injuries, told police he didn't remember what happened. Police think he might have accidentally hit the accelerator after the first impact.

No drugs or alcohol were found in Hemple's blood. Police also don't think he suffered a medical condition.

Under Florida law, drivers are cited with noncriminal traffic infractions unless investigators think there was criminal intent or criminal negligence, such as drinking and driving or recklessness.

Hemple could not be reached for comment Monday.

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

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