St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

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

Mack truck plows into cars

Nine vehicles were involved in the Pasco crash, which sent five people to area hospitals.

STEVE THOMPSON
Published April 18, 2004

NEW PORT RICHEY - A heavy truck smashed into a cluster of cars stopped at a traffic signal on Saturday, sending five people to regional hospitals.

"We were all stopped, and he didn't slow up or anything," said Janelle Abell, who was stopped at the light at State Road 54 and Little Road in a Mercury Grand Marquis. "He just went literally over the top of them.

"I was talking to my aunt and all the sudden there he was," Abell said. "I saw him coming and I knew there was no way he could stop."

Rescue workers spent more than an hour rescuing one woman from a Saturn crushed in the 3 p.m. crash.

The truck rolled over the Saturn and struck a Toyota in the side, slamming it into a Cadillac that, in turn, rear-ended a Toyota Land Cruiser. Other cars were also involved, including Abell's, which was sideswiped. The wreck involved eight cars in addition to the truck.

Abell said it looked as if the truck, of Gateway Rolloff Service in New Port Richey, never braked. The truck is designed to haul large refuse containers from construction sites.

The truck's driver, Robert Giambarrese, 45, of Holiday, stood by the crash scene uninjured. He declined to comment. Charges against him are pending, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

It took rescue workers about half an hour to free the passenger of the Toyota, 56-year-old Paul Ramsey of Holiday. He was flown to a hospital by helicopter.

The Saturn was so mangled its front end was difficult to distinguish from its rear. Rescue workers cut away portions of the car and used a heavy-duty wrecker to lift the truck off it. Rescuing the driver took an hour and 17 minutes. The driver, Shannon P. Murphy, 29, of Holiday, was taken by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

"She appeared to be all right," said Mike Schmidt, who was driving the Pasco Towing wrecker that helped free her. "She was talking and everything."

The scene, which involved two helicopters, five ambulances, four fire engines and multiple patrol cars, slowed traffic and attracted crowds of onlookers for more than two hours.

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