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    Tampa Bay brief

    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2000

    Taxi driver killed in crash into building

    TAMPA -- A cabdriver was killed Friday night when his taxi crashed into an apartment building, police said. The accident occurred about 9 p.m. at N Himes Avenue and Beach Street, Tampa police said. The crash was under investigation, and the driver's name wasn't released pending notification of his family. No other cars were involved, police said.

    Retired lawyer dies in fire in her house

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Lula Marguerite "Mickey" Howard, a retired lawyer who practiced law in Washington, D.C., died Friday morning in a fire in her house near Lake Maggiore.

    Firefighters said the blaze was caused by a cigarette. Howard, 75, was sitting on a couch and may have fallen asleep when a lighted cigarette caught the edge of her couch on fire, said St. Petersburg fire Lt. Chris Bengivengo.

    Howard was a heavy smoker who had emphysema and used an oxygen tank to breathe. She was no longer very mobile and spent a lot of time on her sofa, her family told authorities.

    The fire was reported about 11:20 a.m. at 2311 Murilla Way S just northwest of the lake.

    St. Petersburg SWAT team officers and paramedics were at a training compound nearby and were the first to see smoke coming from Howard's house. They ran over immediately and forced her front door open, but it was too late.

    The house was filled with smoke and flames. Firefighters think the blaze had been smoldering for some time.

    Firetrucks pulled up within minutes and put out the fire. Howard was found on the couch in the front living room. An autopsy will determine how she died.

    Her dog, Pooh, died as well. The medium-sized, mixed-breed dog hid beneath the house and suffered smoke inhalation, police said.

    This was St. Petersburg's first fire death of the year. The city had four last year.

    Seminole man dies in motorcycle accident

    REDINGTON BEACH -- A 57-year-old Seminole man died Friday night after crashing his motorcycle Friday afternoon on Gulf Boulevard in Redington Beach.

    The man's name was not released pending notification of his family.

    About 2:15 p.m., the motorcyclist was going north on Gulf in the curb lane, approaching 162nd Avenue. A vehicle in front of him stopped at the intersection, causing the motorcyclist to slam on his brakes and tip his bike over, said Pinellas sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha.

    The cyclist was wearing a helmet. Bystanders pulled the motorcycle off him and called 911. He died several hours later after undergoing surgery at Bayfront Medical Center. The accident is under investigation.

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