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Man dies, 2 injured in wreck during chase

A speeder dies in the crash, and a Hernando High football player suffers a concussion, a bruised lung and a broken rib. His friend is cut and bruised.

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 10, 2002

BROOKSVILLE -- A 23-year-old Brooksville man was killed after he ran a stop sign and crashed into a truck at California Street and Wiscon Road early Saturday morning during a high speed chase with sheriff's deputies.

Shortly after midnight, William Worren Lovett Jr., 16124 Melbourne St., died after his 1993 Ford hit a truck going east on Wiscon Road, injuring a Hernando High School football player and another Brooksville man, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

Cleveland Braden White, 16, of 27199 Frampton Ave. was resting at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, said his mother, Angela Theo. He had just finished playing in Friday night's Hernando High School game against Crystal River High School.

Bryant Thomas Clark, 18, 4185 Kettering Road, was treated for cuts and bruises and released from Brooksville Regional Hospital Saturday morning, said his father, Tommy Clark. Bryant Clark is a graduate of Hernando High, where he played football last year.

A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman couldn't say immediately whether Lovett had died at the scene. The chase began when Hernando County sheriff's officers "clocked the vehicle exceeding the speed limit," driving on Spring Hill Drive, said Lt. Joe Paez, spokesman for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

The car turned north on California Street, where police had placed spikes on the road between Powell Road and Wiscon Road to slow the car, Paez said. Lovett drove over the spikes and continued north to Wiscon Road, where it hit the passenger side of the 1988 Ford truck.

Officers saw Lovett's car swerving, and they suspect that alcohol was involved, Paez said. White and Clark were driving to a hunting camp, where they were to spend the weekend, parents said. The two men had just picked up their hunting clothes and guns after attending the game.

White was sitting in the passenger side and was hurt seriously when the car rammed into him, Theo said. He was flown to St. Joseph's.

He was sleeping Saturday, recovering from a concussion, a bruised lung, a broken rib and a cut elbow, Theo said.

White is a junior at Hernando High School and plays tight end and defensive end, said his coach, Bill Browning. Hernando made the state playoffs when the team won Friday night.

"He was so excited about going to districts, but now he won't get to play," Theo said. "But I'm just amazed he's alive."

-- Times photographer Daniel Wallace contributed to this report.

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