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Construction accident leaves road worker dead

A 53-year-old New Port Richey man climbs into the bed of a truck but falls from it and is run over by its trailer.

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003

GOWERS CORNER -- All it took was a couple of seconds.

Dale H. Clarke, one of the workers on the State Road 52 resurfacing project, climbed into a construction truck about 3:15 a.m. Thursday to catch a ride across the work site.

But the truck started moving before Clarke could sit down.

Clarke fell out of the bed of the truck and hit the pavement. Then the truck's trailer, carrying a load of orange traffic cones, ran over him, the report said.

Paramedics took Clarke, 53, of 6635 Sandra Dr., in New Port Richey, to Spring Hill Regional Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at the hospital early Thursday morning.

Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the accident, which occurred on SR 52 about a mile east of U.S. 41. At this point, no charges have been filed against the driver, Earl E. Holley, 62, of 1123 Tyrone Ct. in St. Petersburg.

Neighbors said Clarke leaves behind two grown sons.

"He was a pretty quiet man," said his next-door neighbor, Benjamin Barker. "He worked a lot at night, so he slept during the day."

On his latest job, Clarke was the flag person who waved cars through as crews worked on SR 52 at night. The $3.9-million resurfacing project runs from U.S. 41 to Bellamy Brothers Boulevard, and should be finished this spring.

Officials with Clarke's employer, Able Body Labor, declined to comment Thursday while the investigation was pending.

The contractor, APAC of Florida Inc., did not return calls for comment.

-- Times researcher Kitty Bennett contributed to this report.

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