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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 21, 2001


    Driver killed in train collision

    TAMPA -- A Tampa man, possibly blinded by the sun, died instantly about 8 a.m. Sunday when he drove into the path of a moving train at Adamo Drive.

    "The sun was very low, probably in his eyes, and he probably did not see the gate," said Tampa police Cpl. Larry Timmer.

    The driver, Jose M. Pasos, 37, of 1022 W Charter St. also was apparently hampered by a second factor: One of the brakes on his red 1993 Toyota wasn't working, causing the car to fishtail, police said.

    A single skid mark nearly 40 yards long ended several yards before the tracks, suggesting that he tried to stop, then tried to beat the loaded CSX train across the tracks, police said.

    The car was struck on the driver's side and came to rest 100 feet south.

    Several witnesses told police the guardrails worked properly. The driver avoided them, and they were not damaged in the accident.

    Woman hospitalized in shooting incident

    ST. PETERSBURG -- A woman in her 20s was seriously injured by a gunshot late Sunday. Police were called to a house at 2424 Second Ave. S about 10:45 p.m. The woman was taken to Bayfront Medical Center. St. Petersburg police were investigating the shooting.

    Girl, 2, drowns in backyard pool

    TAMPA -- A 2-year-old girl drowned Sunday afternoon in her family's backyard pool.

    Authorities said Alena Rose Ball managed to wander off from her parents just before 1 p.m. Sunday, eventually falling into the pool in her back yard at 3114 Kenyon Ave. in the Carrollwood area.

    Alena's parents, Lenore and Randy Ball, told deputies that she was gone 20 to 30 minutes before anyone noticed she was missing.

    They did not know how long she had been in the pool when they found her.

    The Balls did CPR until paramedics arrived minutes after their 911 call.

    Alena was taken by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

    Sgt. Alan Hill, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, said the family's pool did not have a fence around it and had no child safety devices, such as an alarm, that would have alerted her parents when she fell in.

    Such safety measures are now legally mandated on all new pools built in Florida. The Balls' house and pool were built 15 years ago.

    Florida leads the nation in child drowning deaths. Statewide, officials estimate that 70 to 80 children die per year in drowning accidents.

    Man, 33, shot, killed at apartment complex

    TAMPA -- A Melbourne man was killed early Sunday when an argument escalated into a shooting at the Bentley Court apartments.

    Police said Tracy Lattimore, 33, was shot once in the chest during an argument with an unknown person at the apartments at 11201 N 22nd St.

    Lattimore had an extensive history of arrests since 1987, with convictions for cocaine possession, intent to distribute, petty theft and passing bad checks.

    Police said they had no suspects, and the investigation is continuing.

    Officials identify man who jumped from bridge

    TAMPA -- Authorities have identified the man who they say jumped off the highest span of the Sunshine Skyway bridge to his death Saturday night.

    He is Justin Barrett, 21, of Longboat Key in Manatee County.

    Barrett's body, clad only in orange shorts, was pulled from the water under the bridge by a boater at 7:14 p.m. Saturday.

    Police describe SUV sought in hit-run death

    LARGO -- Police continued to search for the driver of a sport utility vehicle that killed a bicyclist Friday night, and they released additional details about the vehicle.

    The SUV is a newer-model Jeep Grand Cherokee, which should be missing the driver-side mirror cover and have damage to the left front.

    The bicyclist, Stephen David Gunter, 39, was riding his bicycle to meet his fiancee and friends shortly after 11 p.m. Gunter of 2247 Coral Way, Apt. C, in Largo was hit by the SUV while riding east on Belcher Road just north of Ulmerton Road, police say.

    Anyone with information about the vehicle or the driver may call the Largo Police Department at (727) 587-6730.

    Woman, passengers hurt in accident, officials say

    TAMPA -- A Town 'N Country woman was critically injured Sunday morning after she tried to pass another car on Gunn Highway.

    Melanie Planes, 37, of 8303 Oak Forest Court was traveling south at high speed at 3:19 a.m., officials said. She had two passengers in her 1994 Mitsubishi.

    When she tried to pass a 2001 Ford Taurus by using an illegal lane, Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies said, she lost control, slid off the road and crashed into several trees and a utility pole.

    She was flown to St. Joseph's Hospital, where she was in critical condition. The other passengers, Robert Fernandez, 52, and Thomas Boersma, 41, were taken to St. Joseph's and were in fair condition.

    David Hochhasuer, the driver of the Taurus, was unharmed.

    The investigation was continuing.

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