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Tampa woman killed in car crash

Pinellas County sheriff's officials are still trying to determine who ran the red light.

By LEANORA MINAI, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 6, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- An 88-year-old Tampa woman was killed Wednesday when the car in which she was riding collided with a recreational vehicle in the intersection of Gandy Boulevard and Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street N.

Isabella Zurcher, a passenger in a 1997 Acura, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Acura, Bridget Garczynski, 68, also of Tampa, was in good condition at Bayfront Medical Center.

Authorities say either Garczynski or Paul Foote, 71, the driver of the 36-foot RV, drove through a red light, causing the crash that damaged three other vehicles. No one else was seriously injured.

"When I looked up, I saw the (RV) hit the side of a car, and I mean metal just flew everywhere," said Frank Lau, 38, who was driving through the intersection. "It was an explosion of metal."

This was St. Petersburg's first fatal accident of the year. Last year, there were 27 accidents at the intersection, but no deaths.

Although the crash was in the city, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is investigating. The Sheriff's Office takes over when a sheriff's employee is involved in an accident in a sheriff's vehicle.

Tonya White, 29, a child protection investigator with the Sheriff's Office, was in a Ford Contour that was damaged in the northbound lane of Gandy Boulevard. She complained of neck pain and was taken to Bayfront Medical Center.

The crash happened at 10:15 a.m. when the recreational vehicle, which was eastbound on Gandy, crashed into the Acura, said Pinellas sheriff's Sgt. Greg Tita. The Acura was traveling south on King (Ninth) Street N.

"We're still trying to determine who had the green light, but we know that a motor home that was eastbound on Gandy struck an Acura," Tita said.

Foote, who had Mitsey, his pet Pekinese with him in the recreational vehicle, said he did not go through the red light.

"I tried to control my vehicle and get out of the way," said Foote, a Pinellas Park resident.

No one was cited Wednesday.

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