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Girl dragged into garage, pinned under car in wreck

Neighbors raise the car so rescuers can save the 12-year-old.

By THOMAS LAKE
Published May 3, 2007


PORT RICHEY - First the red car flattened a mailbox on the south shoulder of Bramblewood Drive. Then it crossed back to the north, toward the other sidewalk, into the path of a 12-year-old girl.

Kristy Egg saw it happen. She was driving her kids home from school. She saw the girl vanish, saw the car crush a crape myrtle and puncture a garage. She thought the girl had lunged to safety.

Then she saw the sock.

It was under a tire.

The girl, Alyssa Teppett, had been hit by the car and dragged up the driveway. Now Egg found her in the garage, pinned beneath the muffler.

"Help," Alyssa whispered. She could not breathe well enough to scream.

About 4 p.m. Wednesday, after a disabled veteran lost control of his Mitsubishi on his way to buy milk from 7-Eleven, neighbors in Orchid Lake united to help save a girl's life.

Egg, a 34-year-old nursing student, laid beneath the car and held Alyssa's hand as they waited for the ambulance. The crash had knocked her shoes off.

"Alyssa, it's okay," she said. "You're not alone."

Meanwhile, K.C. Kolesnick was in his home office when he heard a crash from his garage. He grabbed a jack to lift the car. So did a neighbor. About five men lifted the car.

Another neighbor, Dawn Hoffman, grabbed chunks of concrete from her yard to wedge under the wheels. Alyssa was pinned for perhaps five to 10 minutes before rescuers pulled her free and airlifted her to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Later she was transferred to All Children's Hospital, where her condition was not immediately released.

The driver was Jose Torres Martinez, 58, of 8005 Banister Lane in Port Richey. Neither he nor his wife, a passenger, was seriously hurt. Witnesses said he got out after the crash and stood there, dazed.

He had not been cited or charged by early Wednesday evening. He said he had swerved to avoid a bicycle.

But his neighbor, Juan Ortiz, 38, said Martinez has hallucinations - recently of a snake and another man in his house.

"He sees things that are not there," Ortiz said, standing by the crash site. "He's on some bad medications."

Martinez told a reporter he took Xanax, an antianxiety drug, Tuesday night and Ativan, another antianxiety drug that can cause drowsiness and dizziness, that morning.

His wife, Margarita Rodriguez, 60, said she would have driven but she has no license.

They stood together on the sidewalk as the afternoon light faded, waiting for someone to tell them what to do. The diesel engine of an ambulance rumbled behind them, and news helicopters were parked in the sky.

"For the baby, I don't feel okay," Martinez said, referring to Alyssa. "I don't know what gonna happen with the baby."

He stroked his wife's hair, put his hand on her shoulder. He was near tears. He spoke again, but the words were lost in the drone of the helicopters.

Thomas Lake can be reached at tlake@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.