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Crash on U.S. 19 kills teen driver

Four others are hurt after the Jeep they were in flips.

By MELANIE AVE
Published May 5, 2007


PINELLAS PARK -- A Dunedin High School student was killed Friday evening after the Jeep Cherokee he was driving flipped in the 8500 block of U.S. 19.

Derek G. Teele, 17, died after being taken to Bayfront Medical Center at about 6:30 p.m.

Four other people in the Jeep were injured. One suffered life-threatening injuries, according to Pinellas Park police.

The one-vehicle crash closed the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 for more than three hours and backed up traffic for a half-mile.

Pinellas Park police Lt. Paul Andrews said Teele was speeding slightly and weaving in and out of traffic when he lost control and ran onto the road's shoulder.

"When he tried to correct, moving from the grass to the pavement, it started rolling, " Andrews said.

The Jeep flipped at least four times, ejecting at least three of the five occupants, police said. Andrews said he didn't think any of the Jeep's occupants were wearing seat belts.

Eric W. Evans, 17, of Dunedin, Rachel L. Tate, 15, of New Port Richey and Brieanna Rae Chisholm, 16, of Spring Hill received injuries that were not life-threatening, police said. Brandon B. Sarnick, 18, of Dunedin was in critical condition at Bayfront Medical Center on Friday night.

Police closed the southbound lanes and diverted traffic onto a vacant field until the vehicle was removed about 9:30 p.m.

"According to witnesses, the driver was driving aggressively, passing in and out, " Andrews said, "making a lot of lane changes."