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    Two-car collision kills two on SR 54

    Several are injured as the two cars spin out of control and one catches fire.

    [Times photo: Joseph Garnett Jr.]
    Pasco County fire rescue workers examine the wreckage left by a fiery two-car crash on State Road 54.

    By TAMARA LUSH and MATTHEW WAITE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2001


    NEW PORT RICHEY -- At least two people were killed and several others were injured late Friday in a spectacular two-car crash that scattered debris over a busy intersection near the border of Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

    Numerous emergency vehicles, including four helicopters, arrived about 8:30 p.m. at State Road 54 and Old County Road 54, where one of the cars was on fire.

    After extinguishing the flames, paramedics found five people in a 1980s model Buick LeBaron and two in a late '90s model Chevrolet Camaro.

    Gathered along the road were more than 60 people who pressed up against the crime scene tape, and another 100 gathered near the entrance of a mobile home park.

    At one point, a man stepped over the tape, walked up to one of the cars and remarked to a nearby woman, "That's them."

    Moments later, the woman got on a cell phone and furiously began making calls.

    Sgt. Jim Tobin of the Florida Highway Patrol said the driver of the Camaro was eastbound on SR 54 and lost control, crossing the westbound path of the LeBaron.

    The two cars collided and spun, ending up pressed against the guardrail in the westbound lane of SR 54.

    Pasco County District Fire Chief Doug Drape said the driver of the Camaro had minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

    The passenger in the car was flown by medical helicopter to a Tampa Bay area hospital.

    One of the dead was in the LeBaron. Another in the LeBaron was taken to a Pasco hospital and wasn't breathing when the ambulance left the scene.

    Also in the LeBaron was a 4-year old girl, who was in extremely critical condition, Drape said.

    Four medical helicopters landed on a bridge spanning a wetland and took off for area hospitals. Seven ambulances were on the scene with three fire engines.

    The intersection where the accident occurred is on the incline of the bridge, not far from the crest.

    No information was available Friday night on the identity of the people involved in the accident or their conditions.

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