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Another U.S. 19 crash claims life

An 89-year-old Dunedin man is killed when he tries to turn left into traffic. Meanwhile, a pedestrian is seriously injured just hours later on the deadly highway.

By BRYAN GILMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 1999


For the second time in two days, someone has died on U.S. 19 in North Pinellas.

And in a separate accident Tuesday, a pedestrian was seriously injured.

There have been at least 11 fatalities on the county's backbone highway north of St. Petersburg this year, including a crash Monday in which a 35-year-old Palm Harbor woman died after her Harley-Davidson motorcycle crashed into the back of a stopped car south of Nebraska Avenue.

An 89-year-old Dunedin man known for volunteering died Tuesday morning when he pulled into the path of a truck while trying to turn left onto southbound U.S. 19.

David Thomas Mitchell of 2643 Cedarglen Drive died at the scene of the 8:01 a.m. crash just north of the State Road 580 overpass at the Winding Creek Boulevard intersection. Mitchell had left home Tuesday morning to go to a dentist appointment, said his daughter-in-law, Susan Mitchell.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper determined there was no way the ABLE Telecommunications and Power Inc. truck could have avoided the collision, a news release says. No charges will be filed. The crew was doing contract work for Florida Power, according to a sign on the truck.

"You worry about anybody getting in the car and trying to cross U.S. 19.," Susan Mitchell said.

The pedestrian was injured not quite three hours later. The accident just north of Nebraska Avenue sent the Tarpon Springs man to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa with a broken leg and a head injury.

Larry Wayne Argo, 39, of 208 W Lemon St. was in serious condition Tuesday night, a hospital spokeswoman reported.

Argo had purchased some food from McDonald's on the eastern side of the highway and was trying to cross the northbound lanes on foot. He stepped into the path of an oncoming car, a Highway Patrol news release states.

After Argo had been taken to the hospital, french fries remained scattered along the bottom edge of the shattered windshield of the 1995 Oldsmobile that struck him. The car's driver, Lucille H. Orr, 83, of 504 Old Mill Pond Road, Palm Harbor, will not be charged.

"Vehicle . . . could not avoid the pedestrian," investigating Trooper James C. Covert wrote.

"He just walked right into my car," Orr said at the scene, declining to speak about the crash further.

David Mitchell's family, including his wife, 81-year-old Marie Mitchell, and Mr. Mitchell's four grown children were struggling to accept his sudden death Tuesday night, Susan Mitchell said.

Despite being 89, Mitchell was in fine health and continued to serve on the Boy Scouts of America council for Pinellas County and volunteer for the United Way.

"He had a kind of a sparkle in his eye," Susan Mitchell said. "He had a good sense of humor but it was not a loud or boisterous kind of humor. Kind of a chuckle kind of a person."

Mitchell also was a director of the Barrington Hills Homeowners Association, a position he had held for more than 20 years, according to Horace Whallen, who also served on the board.

"He was one of the original occupants," Whallen said. "He moved here when they first opened the subdivision. He was one of the first people I met. I moved here 22 years ago."

Mitchell often pulled weeds, mowed grass and fixed gates and fences for the neighborhood. A retired chemical engineer, he had a full tool shop at his house, including welding and woodworking equipment.

"Boy, he was a hard worker," Whallen said.

Mitchell retired from Redd Laboratories in Safety Harbor 22 years ago, Susan Mitchell said.

"He had a long and wonderful retirement," she said.

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