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    2 killed in horrific crash

    Two die at the scene. It was the second crash with multiple fatalities in Pasco in less than two weeks.

    By TAMARA LUSH

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2001


    photo
    [Times photo: Janel Schroeder]
    A medical helicopter hovers over the scene of a two-car accident on U.S. 19 in Pasco County on Tuesday afternoon. Witnesses say this southbound white Mercury turned left into the path of a northbound Ford Escort.
    PORT RICHEY -- Drivers saw the tan Ford Escort as it raced up U.S. 19 Tuesday afternoon, music thumping and its passengers singing and hooting at other cars.

    "They all had their hands outside of the windows, tooling around, having a grand old time," said Meredith Klein, who watched the car speed by.

    The car "went flying by me, at least doing 80," she said. As they passed, she heard the car's music through her closed windows.

    Then, Klein heard what sounded like an explosion as a white Mercury in the median lane cut across the northbound lane, into the path of the Ford.

    "It was like a big balloon of dust enveloped the white car," she said.

    Two people were pronounced dead at the scene.

    Four helicopters flew four people from the crash in northwest Pasco County to Tampa Bay area hospitals. Several of those people had life-threatening injuries, rescue personnel said.

    According to the Florida Highway Patrol:

    Dead at the scene were Todd Perkins, 34, of 15143 Dayton Drive, in the Ford, and Justin Charles David Magin, 18, of 6219 Old Trail, in the Mercury, both of Hudson.

    Injured passengers in the Ford were Jeffrey Allen Patton, 36, of 7815 New York Ave., Hudson, listed in critical condition at St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa; and Tim Peterson, 38, 7420 Sheepshead Drive, Hudson, in critical condition at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

    James Robert Bishop Jr., 18, of 10039 Woodland Drive, Hudson, was in critical condition at an unknown hospital, and Charles Nicholson, 18, of 15143 Dayton Drive, Hudson, was in critical condition at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. This was the second crash that has killed multiple people in Pasco in a week and a half.

    [Times photo: Janel Schroeder]
    Rescue personnel attend to the injured. Four helicopters took four of the injured to area hospitals. The crash backed up traffic on U.S. 19 for a half mile.

    On March 2, four people died during a two-car crash at the intersection of State Road 54 and Old County Road 54. Three children, ages 13, 10 and 4 died, along with a 53-year-old woman. The Florida Highway Patrol still is investigating that crash.

    Hours after the 4:30 p.m. wreck, troopers picked through the mangled cars and automobile detritus, including clothing, papers and vehicle parts, to determine who caused the crash. Charges or a final report won't be ready for weeks, after autopsies and toxicology lab tests are performed.

    Traffic was backed up more than a half-mile from the crash scene.

    Bob Pruyn of Hudson had just gotten gas at a nearby Mobil station and was driving through the parking lot of the Hudson Square shopping center when he saw the collision.

    It was unclear whether the tan car was turning into the Mobil station or making a U-turn, witnesses said.

    The tan Ford and the white Mercury came to rest more than 100 feet from the intersection where the impact happened.

    Pruyn ran to the white Mercury, its right side crumpled and concave. Pruyn saw a badly injured young man inside. Gas gushed onto the asphalt.

    "I ran up to see if I could help," said Pruyn. "Then he took his last gasp of air."

    The drivers and the passengers in both cars were under the age of 25, witnesses said.

    More than 50 people gathered on the edge of the nearby shopping center and watched the rescue workers help the injured, and as two paramedics tightly covered a person lying in the road with a white sheet.

    "That's two dead. It's a sin," said Klein, of Hudson. "I never want to see anything like this again."

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