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FHP: Driver fled scene of deadly crash

The man sideswiped a car, sending it across the median and into the path of a semitrailer truck, troopers say.

By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER
Published December 22, 2005


TAMPA - Investigators say a Safety Harbor man called the Florida Highway Patrol on Wednesday morning to report that he had been involved in a crash.

But that was an hour after he hit a 1990 Ford Tempo on Interstate 75 in Brandon, setting off a violent collision that killed the Tempo's driver, said FHP spokesman Trooper Larry Coggins.

Authorities arrested Robert P. Bischoff, 40, late Wednesday morning at his workplace in Lithia and charged him with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a deadly crash and reckless driving.

He was held Wednesday at Orient Road Jail in lieu of $24,500 bail.

It was the latest in a series of arrests and citations for Bischoff dating back to the early 1980s. "A number of witnesses told us of an erratic driving pattern prior to the crash," Coggins said. "He was just very reckless."

Bischoff was driving a 2003 Dodge van south on I-75 north of State Road 60 at 7 a.m. when he sideswiped the driver's side of the southbound Tempo driven by Brian M. Mydelski, 25, of Bushnell, FHP investigators said. The impact sent the Tempo spinning across the median into northbound traffic.

A 2005 Mack semitrailer truck slammed into the passenger's side of the Tempo, ejecting Mydelski and totaling the car. Mydelski was not wearing a seat belt, Coggins said.

The truck spun into a guardrail and slid down an embankment between northbound I-75 and the entrance ramp on SR 60. The truck driver, Johnny R. Horton, 53, of Bradenton, was flown to Tampa General Hospital.

Bischoff never stopped, Coggins said, prompting some witnesses to follow him as they alerted authorities via cell phones.

Troopers closed all but one northbound lane for three hours Wednesday morning while they investigated the crash scene. Once those lanes reopened, they closed the entrance ramp from SR 60 onto northbound I-75 for about an hour while workers removed the Mack truck from the embankment.

Coggins said it was unclear whether Bischoff intentionally hit the Tempo. Troopers do not suspect alcohol was involved.

Bischoff's driving record includes citations for driving under the influence, driving without insurance, speeding, failing to stay in his lane and reckless driving.

He has been cited twice with driving under the influence, once in Broward County and once in Pinellas. He served a year of probation after a 2002 DUI conviction in Pinellas County, and his license was suspended for a year, according to state records.

In 1998, he was sentenced to probation after an arrest in Hollywood for drug possession.

Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at 813 226-3373 or svansickler@sptimes.com

[Last modified December 22, 2005, 00:58:15]


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