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As driver calls 911, a fatal hit

A bicyclist survives an accident, but a second car hits her and flees.

By ABHI RAGHUNATHAN
Published June 22, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG - Karyn Plunkett was just a few blocks from home Wednesday night when she decided to pedal her bicycle across 54th Avenue N.

Plunkett, 42, steered into the path of a Mitsubishi hatchback driven by Steven Bradshaw, 29, the Florida Highway Patrol said. As she lay on the street, Bradshaw got out and dialed 911.

But as Bradshaw was calling, another car struck Plunkett and kept going.

Several witnesses managed to take down a tag number and follow the 2005 Mercury Montego. A half-hour after the accident, Shannon Whitfield, 42, drove up to the accident scene and said, "I believe I hit someone, " according to Trooper Larry Coggins, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol.

Whitfield of Kenneth City was arrested on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Bradshaw - who stopped immediately after the accident - doesn't face any charges.

The different actions taken by the two drivers show how decisions made in an instant can have big repercussions.

"We know Whitfield didn't mean to do this, but he turned a bad situation worse, " Coggins said. "The first driver (Bradshaw) did the right thing by stopping and calling for help."

Coggins said that if the second driver had stopped, he wouldn't have been arrested either.

Plunkett, who has a long criminal record of drug-related arrests, didn't have a valid driver's license. She wore dark clothes and no reflective gear. She was pedaling her bicycle across 54th Avenue N, near 28th Street, close to her home.

After she rode into the path of Bradshaw's car, she was still alive, Coggins said. It was only after Whitfield ran over her that she died.

Coggins said there is no record of Whitfield calling for help.

Bradshaw , a St. Petersburg resident, couldn't be reached for comment.

Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

[Last modified June 22, 2007, 03:41:52]


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