One dies on I-75 as pickup slams into tanker
A pickup truck collided Thursday night with a semi-trailer truck carrying about 8,500 gallons of fuel, killing one person and injuring two others. The Florida Highway Patrol said Rajendra Ram, 39, of Ocklawaha, was heading north on Interstate 75, past State Road 56, and came upon slower moving traffic about 9 p.m. but didn't slow down. Ram's 2003 Toyota Tundra slammed into the semi driven by Dionisio Lopez, 42, of Brandon. Ram was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital by helicopter in critical condition. His passenger, whose name has not been released, died at the scene, troopers said. Lopez had minor injuries. Troopers said another vehicle, a 2008 Chrysler van, was damaged by debris that flew off during the collision. But the driver, 65-year-old John C Heiby of Ohio was not injured.
New name enters School Board race
A third hopeful has cast his hat in the ring to seek Kathryn Starkey's seat on the Pasco County School Board. Christopher Cooley, 39, co-owner and vice-president of Webco Dental and Medical Supplies in Hudson, filed papers with the Elections Office late Thursday. He joins pastor John Tracy and retired court reporter Billie Kaleel in the race for District 4, which will come open two years early as Starkey resigns to run for State House District 45. "Obviously, the School Board is facing a number of tough decisions with reduced funding," Cooley said in a news release. "I believe that if we remain tightly focused on the improvements and services that directly impact students and instructional staff, the quality of our schools can improve despite shrinking budgets." Cooley is past president of the Suncoast Lakes Homeowners Association, which is fighting the school district over a proposed rezoning of students from River Ridge to Hudson High. He is a veteran of the Marine Corps, and has made the news for helping his brother, Josh, a wounded Iraq War veteran and former Pasco County deputy. Cooley is married with four children.
Local and regional obituaries are in Section B.