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Two injured, arrested when minivan crashes into home


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- A stolen minivan careened between a tree and a hydrant, smashed through a wooden fence and rammed into a house Wednesday morning. A patrol car had been following it for 20 blocks.

The van knocked a hole in the outside wall of the house at 38th Avenue N and 38th Street and buckled the floor of a bedroom.

A woman in the house wasn't hurt. The couple in the van had minor injuries, authorities said.

A Pinellas County sheriff's deputy began following the 1993 Chevrolet Astro minivan about 9:30 a.m. when he ran its license tag and found that the van had been reported stolen in Georgia, said sheriff's spokesman Cal Dennie.

The deputy tried to stop the van near 39th Street and 53rd Avenue N, but the driver sped away, Dennie said. The deputy followed the van into the city of St. Petersburg. Sheriff's officials stopped short of calling it a chase, saying the deputy was driving 40-50 mph without running his emergency lights or siren. "We just followed them, that's all," Dennie said.

The minivan's driver, Angela Jones, 32, lost control and crashed into the house at 3800 38th St. N, Dennie said. She and her passenger, Bryan Elder, 26, were arrested. Elder was found hiding in a shed with a broken arm, and Jones was walking down the street with a bloody nose and cocaine in her pocket, deputies said.

Jones and Elder live in Georgia. They were charged with grand theft auto, fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest without violence and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. Jones also was charged with possessing cocaine.

The woman in the house, Phetsavanh Silapheth, was getting ready for work when she heard the crash. Once the van was towed, one of the home's bedrooms was visible from the outside.

The house's owner, painting contractor Silvio Aladro, used plywood to temporarily block the hole. "It's a good thing nobody got hurt," Aladro said. "That's what's important."

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