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Accident details coming into focus

As a boy slowly recovers, investigators piece together how he was hit by a truck's trailer while standing on a sidewalk.

By JANE MEINHARDT

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2000


LARGO -- Hospitalized after a strange accident on West Bay Drive six days ago, 10-year-old Corey Newman has been struggling.

The Largo boy's lungs collapsed Friday, and All Children's Hospital officials said his condition was near critical. He underwent leg surgery Monday, and the next day his condition improved some.

"He had a setback Friday," said his mother, Sherry Hice. "They had to give him blood over the weekend."

Corey sustained leg, chest, neck and other injuries Thursday when he was hit by a turning semitrailer truck after missing his school bus Thursday. Hice, 37, said he has a fractured neck and will have to be in a body cast for several months.

A single parent, Hice worked as a pest exterminator but is between jobs. Friends have set up a trust fund because the family has no insurance. Hice spends most of her time at the hospital with Corey, the youngest of her three sons.

"He tries to be the boss," Hice said. "He's feisty and strong."

A pupil at Southern Oak Elementary School, Corey works on some weekends for Sherri Lalios and her husband. They operate a hot dog concession at Largo Central Park, and Corey does various jobs for them.

"He just came up to us one day, introduced himself and asked if he could help," Lalios said. "He's a good kid. He's been a good influence on my children."

Police continue to piece together the accident that injured Corey, using what little evidence they can find and information from him.

Initially, investigators thought the boy got caught between the cab and trailer of a semitrailer truck that was turning. A new scenario has emerged, said Officer Steve Field.

Corey was on the sidewalk on the southeast corner of West Bay Drive at Sixth Street, waiting for traffic as he walked back home Thursday from his bus stop about 10 a.m. Field said he was on the sidewalk near the curb.

A semitrailer truck going north on Sixth Street, which is a narrow brick road, approached West Bay and swung wide to turn right on West Bay. Corey saw the truck's cab. He did not see the trailer as it came from behind his left side.

"As the cab finished the north to east turn, the trailer was pulled diagonally to the right," Field said. "This makes it sweep across the corner and across the sidewalk. The center part of the trailer hit him. He was very surprised because it came from behind him."

Tire marks were found on the sidewalk, which extends to the curb. The curb lane the truck turned into on West Bay is only 10 feet wide instead of the 14 feet currently required on multilane roads.

Corey was either caught by something on the truck or he held onto something after he was hit. The truck's trailer carried the boy 47 feet until he dropped to the ground. The rear wheels ran over his left leg.

The white truck continued without stopping. Field has canvassed the area, trying unsuccessfully to find where the truck may have made a delivery. He has found no witnesses.

"In my opinion, the driver should have been aware (Corey) was there," Field said. "The driver should have known his trailer would sweep across the sidewalk."

Anyone with information about the truck or the accident is asked to call Largo police at 587-6730.

How to help

A fund to help defray medical expenses for Corey Newman has been established at Premiere Community Bank. The fund is at the bank at 350 East Bay Drive, Largo 33770, but all Premiere branches will accept contributions. Checks may be made out to the Corey Newman Donation Account.

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