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Truck cresting hill causes 3-car wreck

A woman is badly hurt when a Ford F350 plows into a Ford LTD, which hits a Jeep Cherokee on State Road 52.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2001

SAINT LEO -- A three-car wreck Wednesday on State Road 52 seriously injured one person and tied up traffic on the two-lane road during the busy lunch hour.

A black Ford truck had broken down in the road and was being aided by a Pasco sheriff's deputy.

But the truck was on a downslope in front of Saint Leo University, making it difficult for drivers coming over the hill to see, deputies said.

A Ford F350 driven by James Mooney, 57, of Dade City came across the hill and plowed into the rear of a white Ford LTD just after noon. The truck smashed the entire rear of the LTD. The driver, Oliver Smith, 74, of 14714 Futch St. in Dade City, suffered minor injuries. His passenger, Trudy Capehart, of 14905 Hormuth St. in Dade City, was taken by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

Her injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

The wreck caused the LTD to lurch into a Jeep Cherokee driven by Tampa police Officer Sarah Hinsz.

Hinsz, of Zephyrhills, said she was just heading to buy roast beef.

"I had no chance to think, it happened so fast," said Hinsz, who was not injured in the accident. "I investigate accidents all the time, and here it happens to me."

The incident closed down both lanes of the road for more than an hour. As monks from nearby Saint Leo Abbey looked on, state inmates showed up to clear debris from the road.

Deputies said Mooney would be cited for careless driving.

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