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Man dies in wreck near gas station

His speeding car hit an embankment, the Highway Patrol says, and went airborne.

By JAMAL THALJI
Published September 24, 2006


LAND O'LAKES - A young man died when a Honda Accord somehow launched itself in midair early Saturday over the stunned patrons of the always-busy Radiant gas station at State Road 54 and Collier Parkway, authorities say.

Ryan Foote was waiting at the light on westbound SR 54 when he saw the Accord race through a red signal at the intersection seconds before the accident.

"He had to have been going at least 100 mph," said Foote, 21, who called 911 right after the accident.

An embankment on the southwest corner turned into a launching pad for the 2006 Accord, which for some unknown reason, a Florida Highway Patrol report says, veered off southbound Collier about 1:43 a.m. as it drove through the intersection. The Accord struck the embankment, then took off, shattering a sign and clipping a concrete wall on the way up.

Then it struck the corner of the awning, some 15 to 20 feet over the gas pumps.

"We saw where it hit the awning," Foote said, "and it was just a cloud of dust after that."

The car continued to leap over trees and cars parked in front of the convenience store. When it tumbled back to earth, the car scraped the side of the gas station, wiped out a pay phone and struck several other parking lot structures as it careened end over end into nearby parking lots, leaving behind a 500-foot trail of wreckage. But no one else was reported injured.

Soon, law officers and firefighters swarmed over the scene. They walked back and forth with flashlights, tracing the debris, trying to figure out just how the accident occurred.

The Accord's 18-year-old driver, Patrick Boyles of Land O'Lakes, was declared dead by Pasco Fire Rescue at 1:51 a.m.

It could have been much worse. The car could have struck power lines near the road's edge just yards from the gas pumps; or it could have careened into the pumps themselves; or it could have crashed into the busy convenience store, where patrons line up to pay for gas, drinks and Subway sandwiches at all hours day and night.

What was left of the vehicle came to rest on its crushed roof. Boyles' family, of 22421 Shoreside Drive, could not be reached for comment Saturday afternoon. He was not wearing a seat belt, according to the FHP report.

The SR 54 gas station is the scene of a fatal September 2003 brawl that ended in murder. In December Timothy Hahn was sentenced to life in prison for fatally ramming Todd Byers against the gas station wall with his car.