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Accident kills month-old baby

Police say the crash was caused by a car that ran a red light. The baby was thrown from a sport utility vehicle.

By MIKE BRASSFIELD

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 24, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- A routine trip to the doctor's office turned tragic for a young Albanian couple Thursday afternoon when their 5-week-old daughter died in a car crash, authorities said.

Police said another car ran a red light and hit the couple's Ford Explorer, flipping it over several times. The baby was riding in a child's car seat but was thrown from the vehicle.

The accident happened about 1:30 p.m. at Fifth Avenue S and Eighth Street, between Interstate 175 and Bayfront Medical Center.

The girl who died was identified as Kristina Rrgalla, who was born Feb. 15.

Her mother, 21-year-old Kozeta Nikaj, was driving the Explorer. Her father, 25-year-old Gzim Rrgalla, was in the back seat with Kristina, police said.

The Kenneth City family was headed east on Fifth Avenue S in downtown St. Petersburg, headed to a doctor's appointment.

Police say a Buick Skylark driven by Saralee J. Ewin, 55, of St. Petersburg, was headed north on Eighth Street when Ewin ran a red light and hit the side of the Explorer.

A witness at the intersection told police that Ewin ran the light, said St. Petersburg police spokesman Dan Bates. Ewin wasn't charged Thursday, but police were still investigating the crash.

After the impact, the Explorer rolled over at least twice before landing on a guardrail.

The baby suffered massive head injuries and died two hours later at Bayfront, Bates said. Her parents were treated for minor injuries at Bayfront.

Ewin was treated for minor injuries at St. Anthony's Hospital.

Police weren't sure whether the baby's car seat was properly installed because the force of the impact ejected the car seat from the Explorer.

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