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    Three Dunedin High students hurt in car crash

    Sheriff's officials say the driver swerved to avoid something in the road and hit a utility pole.

    By LEON M. TUCKER

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2001


    DUNEDIN -- Dunedin High School officials aren't saying where three students were going when their late-model Volvo struck a utility pole Thursday morning during school hours.

    But the school's principal said the boys, all baseball players, had permission to leave the campus.

    Pinellas County sheriff's officials say Kyle Schmidt, 17, was driving north on Keene Road with passengers Matthew Cheek and Bryan Banks, both 18, about 11 a.m.

    "He swerved to avoid an object or something on the road and hit a steel high-tension telephone pole," said sheriff's spokesman Cal Dennie.

    Dennie said it took rescuers nearly 40 minutes to free Schmidt from the wreckage at the corner of Keene Road and Salem Court.

    Schmidt and Cheek were taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Banks was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

    Cheek was listed in stable condition and Banks' condition was listed as fair. Schmidt's condition was not available, but his injuries were not thought to be life-threatening, according to a hospital spokesman.

    Like all Pinellas County public schools, Dunedin forbids students from leaving campus without permission from their parents and the administration.

    "We all have problems keeping kids on campus," said principal Mildred Reed. At the beginning of the school year, Parent Teacher Association president Marylou Krentzman said, parent volunteers stood at the gates of the student parking lot during lunch and asked students to show their passes to leave campus.

    "But the same parents can't do it day after day," she said. "It has been very difficult to keep the high school kids from leaving campus during the day. But it's not a Dunedin problem, it's a high school problem and it's so scary."

    Tom Hilbert, head coach of the baseball team, said a student told him the news shortly after the accident occurred.

    "I just grabbed my (car) keys and cell phone and started running," he said about driving to the scene. "As I ran up you could see the car and from the looks of that car, those kids are very fortunate."

    Hilbert, who said members of his baseball team often obtain passes to leave school grounds, said he did not know where the three students were going Thursday.

    Baseball player Kenny Holmberg visited his teammate Banks after school.

    "When I got there I talked to his mom and she said everything was going to be fine, which relieved me," the 18-year-old senior said. "When I saw him he was talking and joking around, but I knew he was hurting."

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