Thursday, April 10, 2008

Investigator today seeks witnesses to Tuesday wreck

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Friday, Apr 11, 2008

Investigator today seeks witnesses to Tuesday wreck


A state investigator today is seeking witnesses to an accident on Ninth Street East Tuesday in order to determine the driver of a hit-and-run pickup.

Florida Highway Patrol accident investigator Cpl. Darrell D. Carroll said the driver and a passenger may have switched seats after the accident at 2:35 p.m. Tuesday in the 5200 block of Ninth Street East, southeast of Bradenton.

"It's very important for people to call us," Carroll said. "We need more eyewitnesses to the crash that observed the driver and passenger."

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information regarding the incident is asked to call Carroll or Cpl.

Lona Mitchell at the Florida Highway Patrol station number, 751-7647, ext. 131.

Carroll said the driver and the passenger of the 2006 Ford F150 pickup may have switched seats in a parking lot at Fifth Street East.

"We're looking for anyone who saw the white pickup truck in the parking lot," Carroll said.

James A. Murray, 25, of Bradenton, was arrested Tuesday night on charges including knowingly driving with a suspended license, causing an accident with serious bodily injury, felony leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury and misdemeanor leaving the scene of a crash with property damage.

Murray told authorities he was the driver in the crash.

The crash occurred when a trailer carrying a car separated from the southbound pickup that was pulling it, according to troopers on the scene.

The trailer crossed the median and plowed into the driver's side of a red Mitsubishi Galant that was headed north, trapping the driver, Harvey, inside and injuring her passenger, Hart.

With the trailer no longer attached to the pickup, Murray left the scene.

Trooper Michael Sutherland said Murray, of 3214 Ninth Ave. W., was identified when he tried to report the trailer stolen.

"He didn't tell us why he specifically left," Sutherland said.

The Florida Highway Patrol today identified the two injured women.

Clovia D. Harvey, 25, of the 5000 block of 16th Court East, Bradenton, was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical center in critical condition.

Also injured was Miriam Hart, 27, who lives at the same address as Harvey. Hart was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital where she was treated and released.

Emergency workers from Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue had to use the jaws of life to cut Harvey from the Mitsubishi. She was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg for surgery.

Authorities were able to track the alleged truck driver down from the tag left on the trailer and later arrested him. The trailer belonged to the father of Murray's girlfriend.

Murray had no injuries. Neither did his passenger, McCulligh.

Mario Ponce, 18, of Bradenton, lives a block away from where the crash took place.

"It was like a big boom," he said.

Ponce and his friends ran around the corner in time to see the aftermath of the crash.

The Mitsubishi was facing south with the entire roof of the car peeled back.

Meanwhile, clothes and personal belongings were scattered around the the trailer, which sat blocking northbound lanes of traffic.

Just down the road, blocking northbound lanes of traffic, sat the car that was loaded on the trailer.

"It was like a piece of paper. It crumbled right there," Ponce said, pointing at the Mitsubishi. "I don't know how she survived it."

While 2007 statistics for hit-and-run crashes have not been released, the last three years show more and more drivers are leaving the scene of crashes.

In 2004, there were 275 drivers cited in Manatee County. In 2006, that number jumped to 355.

© 2008 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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