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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2001


    Two students charged in sex crimes case

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Two Northeast High School students were arrested and charged Tuesday with sex crimes after police said they got two 14-year-old girls drunk to have sex with them.

    Kyle W. Ettel, 18, and Ryan Buerger, 17, who work together at Albertsons, were arrested by St. Petersburg police Detective Joe Dente in connection with a date rape at 9 p.m. Saturday.

    The investigation began after one of the girls missed an evening curfew and reported to her mother that she had been raped by Buerger during a party at his house, police and arrest affidavits said.

    Detectives investigating the case learned that Buerger's friend, Ettel, gave the alcoholic beverages to the girls, the records said.

    Ettel, who lives at 2095 Hawaii Ave. NE, is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and two counts of lewd battery because, police said, he made the two girls perform oral sex on him. He is being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $100,500 bail.

    Buerger is charged with two counts of sexual battery. He is being held in the Juvenile Assessment Center.

    Store employee charged with lottery ticket theft

    ST. PETE BEACH -- An employee of TLC Food Mart was arrested and charged Monday with grand theft after police said she stole more than $6,700 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets.

    Alyssa Moretti of 601 Corey Ave. No. 156 had been working at the store at 7700 Blind Pass Road since January, police said.

    Coachman descendants honored at dedication

    CLEARWATER -- Some 56 years ago, one of this city's founding businessmen, E.H. Coachman, sold Clearwater his land on the city's hilly downtown waterfront for $40,000.

    Somewhat belatedly, government officials and members of the Coachman family will gather Saturday for a dedication ceremony.

    The land will be officially christened as Coachman Park, a name already familiar to the Tampa Bay area because of events such as Jazz Holiday that are held there.

    Descendants of the pioneer Coachman family had been seeking what they believe is the first dedication of the land as a park for about two years.

    They had argued that part of the land originally sold to the city with the understanding it would be used for a park had already been paved over for parking lots that serve the Harborview Center and Main Library.

    "About time," said Anne Coachman Epling, the grand-daughter of E.H. Coachman's brother, S.S. Coachman. "The family has been wanting this for a long time."

    "I have no idea why it wasn't done right away," said Shirley Coachman Moravec, Epling's cousin. "I think it was just an oversight. . . . We would like to see lots of people come down and celebrate the dedication of the park."

    E.H. Coachman, who sold the land to the city, and his brother, S.S. Coachman, came to the Clearwater area about 1884.

    Driver in fatal crash to be held without bail

    DADE CITY -- Lindy Mercer wasn't settling for anything less than jail Wednesday for the woman charged with taking his wife's life.

    Authorities say Shanna Jane West, 21, caused a fatal head-on collision Nov. 21 on U.S. 41 while admittedly high on drugs. Mercer's 54-year-old wife, Barbara, died in the collision. Three others were injured.

    Prosecutor Phil Van Allen asked Mercer on Wednesday whether he would consider letting West await trial in a 24-hour rehabilitation center. He said no, and Van Allen lobbied for no bail.

    Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb agreed and ordered that West be held without bail until her trial.

    One-car accident leaves two dead in Pasco County

    NEW PORT RICHEY -- A trip to the grocery store turned deadly Wednesday evening when two men in a borrowed Mazda crashed into a tree on Rowan Road.

    The 24-year-old driver died instantly from head trauma, said rescue workers.

    The passenger, who was trapped between the seat and the tree, was given a blood transfusion at the scene as Pasco Fire Rescue workers peeled off the car's roof to remove him.

    Paramedics eventually used saws, hydraulics and a tow truck to move the car so they could delicately pull the injured man out of the wreck.

    "We took him out the only way we could take him out," said District Chief Tim Fussell.

    The man died about a half-hour later, as he was being flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Officials didn't release the names of the men because their relatives had not been told about the crash.

    The crash happened on Rowan Road, just north of Nebraska Avenue.

    The Florida Highway Patrol said the driver had been drinking and was driving fast in the northbound lane when he lost control of the car, jumped the curb and slammed into a 75-foot-tall pine tree.

    The gold Mazda RX-7 belonged to Stephen Tuttle, 17, said Pasco County sheriff's deputies. Tuttle had loaned the car to the two men so they could go to the store to buy chicken for a barbecue later Wednesday night.

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