Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Appeals court upholds ruling that Spring Hill man must pay millions to family in crash

The Second District Court of Appeal upheld a civil judgment that a Spring Hill man was at fault in a 2007 crash that killed three people and injured a fourth and must pay the survivors millions in damages.

David Belniak, 39, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for the crash after a jury found him guilty of three counts of DUI manslaughter in 2011. He was later sued in civil court and ordered to pay around $15 million.

The crash happened about 2:20 p.m. Dec. 25, 2007. A family group was headed to a Christmas gathering in Brooksville. They had presents and a holiday ham in the car.

Authorities said Belniak had alcohol, Xanax and evidence of cocaine in his system. He was driving between 75 and 85 mph when his pickup smashed into the back of Ray McWilliams' Chevrolet Tahoe at U.S. 19 and Little Road.

His wife, Linda McWilliams, 66, was put on life support and died a week later; her daughter, Denise Bassi, 50, died in surgery that day, and Denise's husband, Gerard Bassi, 51, died at the scene.

Family members said Ray McWilliams never fully recovered and he died in 2011 at age 68. The Bassis lived in Connecticut and were visiting Florida for the holidays.

According to the court's website, a PCA — per curiam affirmed — was filed on June 28, finding that a written analysis was unnecessary.

Maureen Deskins, one of the lawyers for the families, said Belniak foresaw a civil suit and sold his assets to his parents within three weeks of the crash. She said Belniak made about $100,000 annually from his job with his parents' Hernando construction company and from collecting rent at his two apartment buildings. He was represented in the civil trial by his sister Debra Tuomey.

Deskins has a pending case in Hernando County against Belniak and his parents to recover the properties.

Belniak also has a pending lawsuit against the Florida Highway Patrol, alleging their investigation of the crash was flawed.

Comments
For Weeki Wachee River, Hernando commission agrees to study how much use is too much?

For Weeki Wachee River, Hernando commission agrees to study how much use is too much?

BROOKSVILLE — For a year and a half, residents along the Weeki Wachee River have loudly voiced their concerns about the waterway’s future, begging local and state officials to do something to protect the important resource and to curb gro...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

As baseball’s hot stove starts heating up, should the Rays go full fire sale to build for the future?In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether the Rays should trade guys like Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Alex Colome and more,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Roy Moore won’t concede Alabama Senate race; ex-Tampa police sergeant learns fate; older Americans take too many unneeded pills; Rays’ dilemma: Retool or rebuild?

The Daystarter: Roy Moore won’t concede Alabama Senate race; ex-Tampa police sergeant learns fate; older Americans take too many unneeded pills; Rays’ dilemma: Retool or rebuild?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.10News WTSPThe latest 7-day forecast• It was cold. Then it was warm. And now it will be cold again. Our yo-yo weather continues as another cold front rolls in and drops tempera...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Yankees become Tampa Tarpons in a nod to history

Tampa Yankees become Tampa Tarpons in a nod to history

The Tampa Yankees have officially changed the name of the Class A Florida State League team to the Tarpons.The name change is a nod to the original Tampa Tarpons minor-league team that played at Al Lopez Field from 1957-87.For the first four years th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

A chance meeting during a really tough time in Rossie Newson’s life resulted in him finding a talent he never knew he had. After leaving his job as an illustrator at the Tampa Bay Times in 2009, Newson devoted most of his time and energy to his fathe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Daniel Ruth: Buckhorn stood with good ol’ boys as firefighter proved city harassed her

Daniel Ruth: Buckhorn stood with good ol’ boys as firefighter proved city harassed her

They tried to shut her up. They tried to make her go away. They made her life miserable. Yet Tanja Vidovic — persisted. Long before most people had ever heard of the knuckle-dragging sexually harassing escapades of oafs like Harvey Weinstein, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Woman, 54, killed while crossing U.S. 19 in Hudson

HUDSON — A Hudson woman died Tuesday evening after being struck by a car while crossing U.S. 19 near Babson Avenue, according to Florida Highway Patrol.Patricia Lynn Pla, 54, was crossing U.S. 19 westbound about 6:10 p.m. when troopers said she was s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Cars top 2018 Rock Hall of Fame inductees

Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Cars top 2018 Rock Hall of Fame inductees

NEW YORK — Iconic singer Nina Simone and New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi lead the 2018 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, which includes four first-time nominees. The Cars, as well as first-time contenders Dire Straits, The Moody Blues and Si...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Canseco’s tweets about sexual misconduct could jeopardize job on A’s telecasts

Canseco’s tweets about sexual misconduct could jeopardize job on A’s telecasts

LAKE BUENA VISTA — A series of tweets by former Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Oakland Athletics slugger Jose Canseco about sexual misconduct and politicians could put in jeopardy his job as a studio analyst on A’s telecasts. Canseco posted several times ...
Updated: 3 hours ago