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    Driver is road's 2nd fatality in 3 days

    By MONIQUE FIELDS

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000


    A Madeira Beach man died Wednesday after he lost control of his van early Tuesday and was thrown from the vehicle along Seminole Boulevard. It was the second fatal accident in three days on the heavily traveled artery.

    Lemuel Wilson Purdum IV, 51, of 150 John's Pass Boarwalk Apt. C, suffered traumatic neck and head injuries after the accident and had been on life support at St. Petersburg General Hospital, Pinellas County sheriff deputies said. The accident occurred as Purdum drove his 1987 Dodge van east off the Welch Causeway about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday and approached the interchange connecting the causeway to Seminole Boulevard and Bay Pines Boulevard.

    "He apparently lost control of his van and hit a guardrail and ricocheted from there into a concrete embankment," said Marianne Pasha, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "He was ejected from the van." Investigators said they smelled alcohol on Purdum's breath. A blood test later confirmed that alcohol was in Purdum's blood. However, the results of the blood test were not available, Pinellas County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Greg Tita said.

    Purdum, who was disabled, was not wearing a seat belt. A woman who identified herself as a family friend said Purdum's family did not want to comment about the accident.

    In an unrelated incident Monday, a 61-year-old Seminole man was killed when his motorcycle collided with a sport utility vehicle at 71st Avenue North and Seminole Boulevard.

    Robert E. Spear of 101 64th Ave N died when he was hit by a 2000 Toyota 4Runner traveling southbound on Seminole Boulevard, Pasha said.

    Traffic was moving slowly southward as Spear attempted to make a left turn onto 71st Avenue. Vehicles in two of the three lanes waved to Spear to make the left turn on to 71st Avenue. As he crossed the third lane, he was hit by the 4Runner. Spear was not wearing a helmet, but there was a helmet attached to the back of his bike, Pasha said.

    Sheriff's deputies have noticed an increase in traffic accidents in recent days, but it is likely the result of increased traffic from seasonal residents returning to Florida.

    "It's starting to get a little busier, a little more traffic," Pasha said. She urged motorists to be extra careful. "Allow yourself plenty of time to get where you're going and just keep your eyes moving all the time through traffic."

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