Driver goes 3 miles with lodged body

A motorist hits a pedestrian on 34th Street, then drives to the Sunshine Skyway with the victim stuck in the windshield.

Published October 20, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - A 93-year-old motorist struck and killed a pedestrian Wednesday evening, then drove about 3 miles with the body lodged in the windshield until he was stopped at a Sunshine Skyway tollbooth.

The driver told officers he thought the body had fallen from the sky, said St. Petersburg police Officer Mike Jockers.

"He had no idea he had been involved in an accident," Jockers said. "He doesn't totally understand what happened."

The crash occurred about 8:30 p.m. when the 52-year-old pedestrian attempted to cross 34th Street S from east to west near 46th Avenue S, witnesses told police.

The pedestrian made it across two of the southbound lanes before he was hit by a 2002 Chevy Malibu, which was traveling about 45 mph, police said.

The impact severed the pedestrian's lower right leg, which remained in the street. His head and arms went through the windshield, while the rest of his body flipped up onto the roof of the car, Jockers said.

"The driver continued southbound, as the eyewitness said, like nothing happened," Jockers said.

As the car approached the toll plaza, the toll taker thought it was a prank, until he saw the blood.

When the driver stopped, the body fell into the car, Jockers said.

A veteran traffic investigator, Jockers said it was one of the most gruesome scenes he has worked.

Neither the name of the driver nor the name of the victim was released Wednesday.

The victim had been living in a motel on 34th Street S. Friends said he had been trying to get to McDonald's for a bite to eat, Jockers said.

The driver, who lives in Pinellas Park, told police that he was headed home. Pinellas Park, however, is miles in the opposite direction.

"Obviously, he was confused," Jockers said. "Incredibly confused."

The driver was taken to Bayfront Medical Center for evaluation.

He will probably not face criminal charges, as he appeared unaware that he had been involved in an accident, Jockers said.

-- Times staff writer Graham Brink contributed to this report.