Teen driver trapped in vehicle after wreck
By RICHARD DANIELSON
PALM HARBOR -- A 17-year-old Palm Harbor driver was trapped for 70 minutes Tuesday after his Chevrolet Tahoe slammed into the back of a landscape company's water truck on Alderman Road.
Sean Patrick Horan's legs were pinned beneath the dashboard in the accident, which happened about 2:30 p.m. just east of Alt. U.S. 19.
It took two extrication crews and three engine companies from Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs to free him, said Palm Harbor Fire Rescue District Chief Dan Zinge. Firefighters eventually had to cut and peel away the roof of the Tahoe.
Throughout, Horan remained conscious, alert and oriented, Zinge said. Rescuers started an intravenous drip while they worked to free him and monitored his vital signs. After being freed, he was rushed to a waiting helicopter in the parking lot of Palm Harbor University High School and flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Horan was treated and released with stitches in his legs, but suffered no broken bones, according to his mother, Shirley Horan.
Horan, a junior in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School, was driving west on Alderman Road when he rear-ended a landscaping truck that had stopped to water new flowers in the road's median. His mother said he was on his way to meet classmates to go horseback riding and didn't see any lights on the truck to indicate that it had stopped.
Truck driver Steven Dwayne Parmenter, 44, of Port Richey, said he was just getting out of the truck, which weighs about 25,000 pounds with a tank of water, when he felt the impact.
"He hit hard enough where it shook that truck," said Parmenter, who was not hurt. "To shake that truck, you've got to be moving."
The speed limit on that stretch of Alderman Road is 35 mph. The Florida Highway Patrol was still investigating the accident Tuesday, said Highway Patrol community service officer Toni Gugliotta.
After the collision, Parmenter asked Horan if he was all right. He said Horan told him he was fine, except that his legs were numb. Parmenter also used the truck's water hose to extinguish a small fire under the hood of the Tahoe.
Parmenter was working for Luke Brothers Inc. Landscape Services of New Port Richey. The company is 21/2 months into a project to beautify the medians along Alderman, said Timothy Nicholson Sr., a Luke Brothers landscape division manager.
Luke Brothers has landscaped 8 miles of East Lake Road, as well as sections of Trinity Boulevard and Curlew, Sunset Point and Belcher roads, but this is its first accident, Nicholson said. He said the truck's safety lights and directional pointer were on at the time of the crash. He estimated that the truck sustained $2,500 in damage.
Although the company's landscaping crews have flashing safety lights on their equipment, Nicholson said motorists could do two things to help keep his workers safe: "Do the speed limit. Pay attention to detail."
-- Staff writer Richard Danielson can be reached at (727) 445-4194 or Danielson@sptimes.com.
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