Bollea speed put at 100 mph

He and a friend were driving at that speed in the August crash, a passenger told police.

By TAMARA EL-KHOURY, Times Staff Writer
Published November 28, 2007

CLEARWATER -- Nick Bollea and a friend were driving their cars around 100 mph moments before the Aug. 26 crash that left a passenger critically injured, according to Clearwater police documents released Tuesday.

Included in the 130 pages of documents was an interview with Barrett Lawrance, a close friend of Bollea's and the passenger in a silver Dodge Viper. Witnesses said the Viper was racing against the Toyota Supra driven by Bollea, son of celebrity wrestler Hulk Hogan.

Lawrance told police the Viper, driven by his friend Daniel Jacobs, was traveling around 100 mph at the time of the accident. The speed limit on Court Street where the car crashed is 40 mph.

Asked if Jacobs and Bollea were driving recklessly, Lawrance said: "This is how they always drive."

Nick Bollea's friend and passenger, John Graziano, remains hospitalized with serious head injuries. Doctors have said Graziano is likely to need lifelong care. Bollea, 17, has been charged with reckless driving with serious bodily injury.

Linda Berry-Robinson, the mother of Graziano's girlfriend, told police she overheard Jacobs telling a pastor at Bayfront Medical Center that he was driving the Viper at more than 100 mph, according to the documents.

Bollea's attorney, Morris "Sandy" Weinberg, said he had not yet seen the documents. But he said his client was not driving 100 mph.

"The scientific evidence doesn't support anything like that," Weinberg said.

Much of the information included in the highly detailed narrative has already been reported, including statements from witnesses who recalled seeing the Viper and the Supra racing before the crash.

New information includes:

The report says Bollea and his friends spent the day of the accident on a boat with Hogan. Bollea's friends, who are all at least 21 years old, were drinking beer. No one reported seeing Bollea drinking alcohol, although it was found in his system after the crash.

Jeremy T. Whitson, who is in charge of security of Shepard's Beach Resort, told police Bollea and about seven other people got off a boat and tried to enter the tiki bar between 5 and 6 p.m. the day of the accident. He said Hogan stayed on the boat. All the people who got off the boat were clutching beer bottles except Bollea, who held a plastic cup. They were not allowed entry, according to Whitson, because they didn't have identification that showed they were 21 or older.

The documents also give new information on the 1998 Supra, which is registered to Hogan.

Police tracked down the owner of the company that modified the car in 2004. The now-defunct company was called Ride Revolution of Johnson City, Tenn.

As compensation to Hogan for appearing at the company's grand opening, Ride Revolution added parts and made modifications to the Supra so that it had 544 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque. A base-level Toyota Supra has 220 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque. In comparison, the 2009 Toyota Corolla produces 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque.

Also Tuesday, 911 calls to Clearwater police dispatchers were released.

A woman said she was on her way home from work at Morton Plant Hospital when the Supra and the Viper pulled up on either side of her at an intersection. The drivers "kind of acknowledged each other," she said.

"The light turned green, and they hauled serious a--; they were weaving around," she said. "The silver car smoked the yellow car, and the yellow car completely lost control and flipped over and turned and twisted."

The witness said she stayed back because she didn't want to get between the cars.

"I couldn't have anyway," she said. "They were flying."

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at tel-khoury@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4181.