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    By Times staff reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2001


    Balky car gets official -- and garage -- in a jam

    TAMPA -- If you wondered why traffic was so backed up Tuesday in the parking garage at County Center, County Commissioner Jim Norman may have some answers.

    Norman was leaving for lunch around noon and discovered his car wouldn't crank. He ended up having maintenance workers, his aide and several other commissioners help him try to jump-start his car. But nothing worked.

    "I was so frustrated. I was hot and sweaty, not to mention hungry," he said. "All the commissioners had come out and were looking at me. It was embarrassing."

    Eventually AAA towed his 1997 Pontiac Bonneville to a mechanic, he said. He later learned all it needed was a new battery.

    "I had traffic clogged up all the way to I-275," Norman joked. "When I found out all it needed was a battery, I felt like a fool. Now I know my calling was not to be a mechanic."

    Police release sketch of woman's attacker

    TAMPA -- Investigators have released a composite sketch of a man they say kidnapped and sexually assaulted a woman over the weekend.

    The 21-year-old victim told police the man exited a dark green car, possibly a Honda Civic, and forced his way into her car at Palm Avenue and 22nd Street in Ybor City about 3 a.m. Saturday, said police spokeswoman Katie Hughes.

    The victim told police he forced her to drive to 11300 Central Ave., where he choked her, beat her and sexually battered her before stealing her car and leaving her at the scene, Hughes said.

    The woman walked to a motel where police were called about 5 a.m. She was taken to University Community Hospital, where she is listed in stable condition.

    Her burned car was later found in Citrus County.

    The assailant is described as a white male in his early 20s, 6 feet 1, 180 pounds, with light-colored eyes that were possibly green, short strawberry blond hair and a mustache. He was last seen wearing dark blue pants and a white shirt.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Lynn Stanbro at (813) 276-3540.

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