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Tampa Bay briefs

By Times staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 2000

Outage leaves 1,500 without electricity

TAMPA -- An equipment failure at an electric substation in south Tampa left more than 1,500 homes and businesses without power for two hours Monday.

TECO spokeswoman Laura Plumb said the outage occurred about 3 p.m. and affected areas around Beach Park and Culbreath Isles, including Coleman Middle School. Because of the outage, the school dismissed students earlier than their usual 3:45 p.m. release time. Power was restored to the area around 5 p.m.

New Port Richey man dies in I-4 accident

TAMPA -- A New Port Richey man was killed Monday afternoon in a single-car accident on Interstate 4. Richard A. Darling, 35, of 4420 Stone River Court, was driving east on I-4 just before 2 p.m. Monday. As he approached the exit for U.S. 301, his 2000 Chevrolet left the road and hit a bridge pillar, said Florida Highway Patrol troopers. Darling died at the scene. He was not wearing a seatbelt, troopers said. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

1 killed, 1 injured in high-speed crash

THONOTOSASSA -- A Valrico man was killed and a 28-year-old man was seriously injured when the sports car the two were riding in went out of control.

Investigators with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office still aren't sure who was driving the 1999 Porsche early Sunday because both men were thrown from their seats. William Lipphardt, 47, of 3019 Cunard Drive in Valrico, died at the scene of the accident. Chad Priestly, of 2016 Elmwood Ave. in Tampa, was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, where his condition had been upgraded to fair Monday night.

Officials said the Porsche, which was leased by Lipphardt, was northbound on McIntosh Road at a high rate of speed about 1 a.m. Sunday when its wheels went off the right side of the road and the driver lost control. The car first struck a tree, then crossed over U.S. 301, hit a fence and overturned. The car came to rest on its roof, with Priestly hanging out of the side. Lipphardt's body was outside of the car.

Officials say woman was abducted and raped

LUTZ -- A 25-year-old woman was kidnapped at a gas station Friday night and taken to a nearby nature preserve, where she was raped, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

Officials said that the woman was leaving the Farm Store at the corner of Sinclair Hills Road and Livingston Avenue about 10:30 p.m. Friday when she was approached by a man.

He forced her into her car and drove her to the Violet Curry nature preserve at N 19th Street and Sinclair Hills Road, according to a sheriff's news release. There, he dragged her into the preserve, where he raped her, officials said. After the rape, the victim ran away and called a family friend, who took her to University Community Hospital for treatment.

The rapist was not armed, officials said. Deputies found the victim's car at the crime scene. The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about the incident should call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or Crimestoppers at (800) 873-TIPS.

Driver dies after string of accidents

TAMPA -- A Tampa woman died shortly after her erratic driving led to a string of accidents Saturday night. An autopsy will be performed to determine whether she died of a medical condition, officials said.

Janice Gail Mitchell, 44, of 11309 N Ola Ave., died at University Community Hospital Saturday night after the crashes. Officials at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Mitchell was southbound on N Boulevard in her 1989 Subaru just before 8:30 p.m. Saturday. As she approached the intersection with Fletcher Avenue, she hit a car but continued on through the intersection, hitting the curb and a concrete pole on her way.

Once through the intersection, Mitchell hit a 1983 Ford as it was turning into a gas station's driveway. The driver of the Ford, 18-year-old Frank Leto of Tampa, was not injured. Witnesses said Mitchell was incoherent immediately after the crashes. The investigation will continue, pending the results of the autopsy.

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