3-vehicle accident injures 3 on U.S. 19
By ED QUIOCO
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 30, 2001
PALM HARBOR -- Two men were critically injured in a three-car wreck that slowed traffic on U.S. 19 for several hours Thursday afternoon.
The driver of a maroon Mitsubishi might have been pulling onto U.S. 19 from Lake Shore Drive about 3:30 p.m. when the accident occurred, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The Mitsubishi and a blue Oldsmobile heading north collided.
The Oldsmobile then rear-ended a white Dodge Ram truck that was on a median opening and waiting to merge with southbound traffic on U.S. 19.
The Oldsmobile's front end was crushed. The Mitsubishi had damage on its left front side, and the driver-side door was pried open by firefighters using the Jaws of Life, said Palm Harbor Fire Rescue District Chief Ron Gray.
The back of the truck had damage and its driver-side windshield was smashed, possibly by flying debris.
"The only thing I can think of is something flew up" from the initial collision and smashed into the windshield, said Rick Chase, 52, the driver of the truck. "I didn't see anything until I felt him hit me, then my window shattered."
Rescue workers tried to call a helicopter, but it couldn't land because of low clouds and low visibility, Gray said. He said helicopters can land in the rain, but the pilots must be able to see.
It was difficult to piece together what happened because there were few witnesses and the drivers of the Oldsmobile and Mitsubishi were taken to Bayfront Medical Center after the wreck, said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James Covert.
Their names were unavailable Thursday night. A third man, who was in stable condition after the wreck, was taken to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs, Gray said.
- Staff writer Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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