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Former Cirtus commissioner killed in wreck

Police think William “Skip” Hudson, 61, may have had a heart attack before running a red light and striking a log carrier.

By ELENA LESLEY and BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published August 11, 2006


CRYSTAL RIVER — William “Skip” Hudson, a former county commissioner known for his tenacity, was killed Friday when his vehicle collided with a flat-bed truck.

“It’s tragic,” said Alex Griffin, a former county commissioner who served with Hudson.
Hudson, 61, left his home about 8:10 a.m. for an appointment. Shortly after that, while eastbound on Kings Bay Drive, he drove his pickup through a red light at U.S. 19, striking the side of an empty log carrier that was northbound.

Crystal River police said they think Hudson suffered a “medical incident,” such as a heart attack. He was taken to Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy has not been completed.

“He just came right on across the road,” said Billy Osteen of Cross City, who was driving the flat-bed.

Northbound traffic on U.S. 19 near Kings Bay Drive was closed for a couple of hours, with the overturned flat-bed and crumpled vehicle covering several lanes.

Inside Hudson’s pickup, the yellow air bag had deployed. Amid smashed glass, one brown loafer and a shattered Daytona International Speedway cup littered the floor.

Hudson’s former colleagues were shaken by the news.

“I’m going to miss seeing him,” said former County Commissioner Nick Bryant.

Hudson, a native of the Washington, D.C., area, graduated from Mount Vernon High School in Virginia and left a job as a programs analyst in the Army to move to Citrus County in 1972.

He was elected to the County Commission in 1986 and, during his four-year tenure, oversaw the expansion of the Crystal River airport and became a dynamic political force in the county.

Hudson was an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars, colleagues said.

“He was adamant about not raising taxes,’’ Bryant said. “In the budget hearings, he’d often be the one in the 4-to-1 vote.’’

And that wasn’t the only time.

“Whenever he got onto something, he wouldn’t let it go,’’ Bryant continued.

Nearing the end of his first term, Hudson amassed a war chest to run for state Senate but dropped out of the race. Later in 1990, he sought re-election to the commission but was defeated by Gary Bartell in the Republican primary.

Outside of politics, Hudson owned a title insurance company and helped raise his three sons. He also served as a director of the Chamber of Commerce and belonged to several civic and fraternal groups.

But colleagues said they won’t forget the impact he had on Citrus.

“I know in his heart that he was always trying to do what was best for the county,’’ Griffin said. “He served the county and he served it well.’’

Elena Lesley can be reached at 564-3627 or elesley@sptimes.com.