By CHRIS TISCH
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2001
CLEARWATER -- Ten-year-old Tim Combs and 5-year-old Garrett Johnson took turns rolling a scooter up and down a neighborhood driveway Wednesday evening.
A sprinkle started. Neighbor Mike Micklos left his house to tell the boys to come inside. He was near his driveway when he saw Garrett in the road. Then he saw the orange Camaro.
Garrett did, too.
"I saw his startled face and it scared me to death," Tim said.
The Camaro struck Garrett and threw him about 15 feet, breaking his leg and cutting his head and face, Micklos said.
Paramedics went to 1419 Regal Road, where Garrett was struck about 5:30 p.m. A helicopter flew him to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was undergoing a CAT scan Wednesday night. He was listed in fair condition Thursday.
"He had the grille marks of the car on his stomach," Micklos said. "There was so much blood."
Micklos said the driver of the 1969 Camaro was going over the 25 mph speed limit. Florida Highway Patrol troopers said there was insufficient evidence to prove that. They did cite the driver, Kenneth Sapp, 38, 1436 Regal Road, for driving with an expired tag, troopers said.
"He should know better," Micklos said of Sapp. "This guy has been yelled at by every neighbor in this neighborhood. This neighborhood is peppered with children."
Sapp declined to speak with a reporter. Troopers said he was upset by the accident.
Speeding is a common problem, residents said. Jack Hackathorn said he recently started a petition that called for traffic-calming measures in the neighborhood. He said he got more than 65 percent of area residents to sign it, prompting the city to plan installing roundabouts and median strips to slow traffic on neighboring roads.
But Hackathorn said it's frustrating because the city won't have the projects completed for another year or two. And there will be no traffic calming devices on Regal Road because it is outside the city limits, he said.
Hackathorn said he wants the city to complete the project faster and the county to jump on board and slow traffic on the streets outside the city limits.
"They need to do something now to eliminate these problems," said Hackathorn, whose two grandsons play in the area. "I've lived here 25 years and it's constantly getting worse. Something needs to be done to protect the children."
Garrett was staying with his grandparents, who live down the street, while his parents worked Wednesday night.
His grandfather, Junior Johnson, said he has seen the orange Camaro going too fast, but the 30-year resident said speeding along the street is nothing new.
Johnson leafed through family photos of Garrett and his 8-year-old brother, Lee, as he recalled hurrying to the crash scene.
A crown Garrett made with golden construction paper sat on a table surrounded by photos of a beaming boy with ocean-blue eyes.
"He was in so much pain he didn't even recognize grandpa," Johnson said. "He was just crying."