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Grandmother, girl injured in car accident

A passer-by said: "I saw what looked like a pickup (truck) jumping the bank, but it was actually their car flipping. . . . We were speechless.''

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 14, 2000


ZEPHYRHILLS -- A 70-year-old Zephyrhills woman and her 8-year-old granddaughter were seriously injured Monday afternoon when the woman drove her car off Eiland Boulevard.

photo
[Times photo: Dan McDuffie]
Passersby Elise hanna, left, and Sandra Cumbee comfort 8-year-old Melinda Riddle as the child's grandmother Dorothy Ann Hein remains trapped in her car Monday afternoon before emergency personnel arrived at the scene.
Dorothy Ann Hein of 3620 Castle Drive was heading west near Hidden Creek Golf Club about 4 p.m. when she drove her burgundy Buick Riviera off the road and down a steep embankment.

She then hit a driveway that cut through the ditch, causing the car to go airborne and roll at least 11/2 times before coming to rest, according to witnesses and the Florida Highway Patrol.

"She just hit the driveway and Evil-Kneiveled it over the ditch," said Trooper Erik Bromiley.

Hein and her 8-year-old granddaughter, Melinda Riddle, also of Zephyrhills, were flown to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Bromiley said.

They remained in the emergency room late Monday afternoon, hospital officials said.

A cluster of witnesses stopped to help after the accident. One of them was Donnie Flowers, a veteran surgical technician for Florida Medical Center.

"I literally have stopped at hundreds of these accidents," said Flowers, who examined Hein and helped calm her nerves until paramedics arrived.

"I wasn't trying to be a hero. I was just doing what I was trained to do."

Flowers said the young girl appeared to be cognizant and not hurt too badly, so he attended to Hein while other witnesses comforted the girl.

He said Hein was bruised and bleeding from the left side of her head, had a bloody nose and appeared to have fractured her left forearm. Although Hein initially was unresponsive, she later began complaining of neck pain, Flowers said.

Elise Hanna, a guidance counselor at Zephryhills High School and another witness, said she also stopped out of instinct.

"We were driving home, and I saw what looked like a pickup (truck) jumping the bank," Hanna said. "But it was actually their car flipping. We were in complete shock. We were speechless."

Hanna called 911 and then comforted the girl, who was screaming for her mother.

Hanna borrowed a cell phone and tried unsuccessfully to call the girl's mother.

"Everybody was running around, and no one really knew what to do," said Hanna, who decided to leave when paramedics arrived so as not to get in the way.

"I'm still feeling very unsettled. I just hope they're okay."

- Times photographer Dan McDuffie contributed to this report.

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