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    I-75 wreck kills man, hurts sons

    The Citrus County man and his two boys were ejected when his minivan rolled after a rear tire blew in Pasco County.

    [Times photo: Dan McDuffie]
    Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Larry Coggins on Monday examines the scene of a single-vehicle, fatal accident on I-275 near mile marker 286.

    By BRADY DENNIS

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published July 3, 2001


    A 66-year-old Citrus County man was killed and his two young sons were badly injured Monday when his minivan blew a rear tire and rolled over along Interstate 75 in Pasco County.

    Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Howard Stone of Inverness lost control of the white 1992 Ford Aerostar. It slid into the grass median, then overturned and slammed into a new guardrail, troopers said.

    The impact ejected Stone and his sons, Joseph, 10, and Shaun, 11. Stone, who was thrown across both southbound lanes, was killed on impact.

    The boys suffered serious injuries and were flown by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. Both were in fair condition late Monday night, a hospital official said.

    The accident occurred about 5 p.m. near the exit of State Road 52 in Pasco County.

    The minivan was in the right lane traveling north when its right rear tire blew out, said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper M.D. Hensley.

    The blown tire was a Dayton, which is manufactured by Bridgestone/Firestone Co. It is not among those recently recalled by the company. The tire's tread separated in the accident, but authorities said they had not determined the reason.

    The afternoon accident closed southbound lanes on the interstate for more than an hour. Cars in the northbound lane crept along as drivers surveyed the wreckage, many shaking their heads somberly as they drove away.

    As bad as the wreck was, it could have been worse.

    On May 9, state Department of Transportation work crews finished installing 6.6 miles of guardrails along I-75 between SR 52 and State Road 54. The $1.9-million project began in January.

    "(The van) would have come across the median and hit somebody else," Hensley said. "It's a good thing. We've been waiting a long time for these guardrails to be put up."

    Stone of 9819 E Lenox Court was handicapped, troopers said.

    His red electric scooter lay broken in front of the van. A metal lifting apparatus in the van's side was mangled.

    Stone's prosthetic right leg lay covered by a white sheet in a southbound emergency lane. FHP troopers said it's unlikely, because all three people were ejected, that anyone in the van was wearing a seat belt.

    A yellow bumper sticker on the back of the van read, "I'm the proud parent of an IPS terrific kid." IPS stands for Inverness Primary School.

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