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Pickup truck hits car head-on, injuring 2

The truck's driver says he was trying to avoid rear-ending a vehicle that stopped suddenly.

By MIKE SAEWITZ

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 6, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Two people were injured Tuesday afternoon when a pickup truck, trying to avoid rear-ending a car, swung into oncoming traffic and struck another car head-on, police said.

Joseph Elias, 40, was driving his 1980 Chevrolet pickup truck west on 18th Avenue S at 21st Street about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. Elias told police that he attempted to make a quick turn onto 21st Street when he smashed into an eastbound Nissan Sentra, driven by Tina Poole.

The crash crumpled Poole's car and trapped her inside.

"I didn't see her," Elias said. "I just hope she's all right."

Fire and Rescue team members cut off the top of Poole's car and used a tool to free her legs, which were trapped between the dashboard and front seat. Poole, 27, was conscious and talking during the rescue, said Officer Mike Preshur, an accident investigator for the St. Petersburg Police Department. She was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where she was in critical condition, according to hospital officials. Poole, of 3880 34th Ave. S, suffered a broken arm, leg and pelvis, Preshur said.

James Lattimore, 43, a passenger in Elias' truck, hit the windshield. Lattimore was not wearing a seat belt, Preshur said.

Lattimore was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was treated and released, hospital officials said. Preshur said Lattimore suffered a cut on the head.

Elias was not injured.

The investigation is continuing, Preshur said. Witnesses told police that Elias was speeding, although he denies it.

Elias said that he was talking to Lattimore when a car in front of him suddenly stopped. He then swung into oncoming traffic in an attempt to make a left turn onto 21st Street and struck Poole's car, he said.

A fisherman, Elias was carrying a large brown box of freshly caught fish in the back of his pickup.

He has been arrested previously on charges of burglary, cocaine possession and battery.

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