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Police identify woman in coma

The missing Tarpon Springs woman has been in the hospital since she was hit by a car June 3.

By MARY CARMICHAEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


She lay comatose in a bay area hospital for almost two weeks, waiting for someone to claim her.

She carried a small black purse when she was struck by a car on Dale Mabry in Land O' Lakes, but it contained no ID. She wore a wedding band, but no one knew who might have slipped it onto her finger.

Until Thursday, the police knew only that she was white with dyed-blond hair, in her early 30s, about 5 foot 3 and 130 pounds. She was wearing tennis shoes, white jean shorts and a gold cross pendant.

Until Thursday, the woman had no name.

But by the end of the day, Tracy Lynn Hoban was surrounded by distraught family members and was the subject of a police investigation in two counties.

Police got involved in the case June 5 when Hoban's live-in boyfriend, Ed Bunch, filed a missing persons report. The Tarpon Springs man told Pasco County sheriff's deputies that he and Hoban were driving through east Pasco on the night of June 3 when they began to argue. Hoban jumped out of the car and ran, he said.

When Bunch hadn't heard from her in two days, he filed his report in Pasco County. In Tampa, a comatose woman was lying in a hospital bed after being struck by a car.

Florida Highway Patrol records said the unidentified pedestrian had been hit at the intersection of Dale Mabry and Highway 41 at 10:15 p.m. June 3 by a 1993 Chevrolet driven by Michael Bindschaettel of Tampa.

"She was walking right in the middle of the road," Bindschaettel said Thursday, "I swerved to miss her and she just came up so quickly on me."

He said a Pasco police officer told him that he "barely clipped her," and police suspect that someone else hit her first, because Bindschaettel's car was virtually undamaged.

Lt. Sterling King, public information officer for the Florida Highway Patrol, couldn't explain Thursday afternoon why the comatose woman hadn't been identified sooner. Police would have been able to identify her through her fingerprints if she had a criminal history, he said.

Tracy Hoban has used the aliases Tracy Flowers and Tracy Bunch. She had been jailed eight times in the past six years.

But still she went unidentified until a Pasco County detective found a missing persons report Thursday that might match up.

Four hours later, family members had positively identified the comatose woman as Tracy Hoban, said her mother, Mary Agnes Flowers.

But unanswered questions remain.

Tarpon Springs police are investigating. They searched Ed Bunch and Tracy Hoban's residence at 133 Hope St. Wednesday night and again Thursday.

Investigator Bob Faugno would not say what they were searching for or what they had found.

Neighbors said Bunch and Hoban had a history of fighting.

Ericka Guthrie, who lives next door to the couple, said she called police twice in the past two months when the fights became too loud.

-- Mattias Karen of the Times staff contributed to this report.

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