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Second driver in Bollea car crash gets probation

Courtesy the Bollea family
Daniel Jacobs, left, John Graziano, center, and Nicolas Bollea were involved a car crash in Clearwater in August. Jacobs has pleaded no contest to reckless driving.

Courtesy the Bollea family Daniel Jacobs, left, John Graziano, center, and Nicolas Bollea were involved a car crash in Clearwater in August. Jacobs has pleaded no contest to reckless driving.

CLEARWATER — Daniel Jacobs, the young man witnesses saw racing Nick Bollea moments before his car wreck, was sentenced to 90 days of probation Thursday.

Jacobs, 22, pleaded no contest to reckless driving. He was also fined $500 and told to do 25 hours of community service.

Jacobs' attorney, Nathaniel Kidder, didn't return calls for comment.

Witnesses said Jacobs was driving a silver Viper and playing a high-speed game of cat and mouse with Bollea's yellow Toyota Supra before Bollea crashed into a tree near downtown Clearwater the night of Aug. 26.

The crash critically injured Bollea's friend and passenger John Graziano, 23.

Bollea, 17, is the son of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan and appeared in the VH-1 reality TV show Hogan Knows Best. He faces a charge of reckless driving with serious bodily injury in connection with the wreck. He has pleaded not guilty.

Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said he does not anticipate calling Jacobs to testify in Bollea's criminal trial.

"I have at least 10 other people in the community that all state that Nicolas Bollea and Danny Jacobs were racing," he said.

Rosenwasser also said an accident reconstructionist found Bollea was driving 69 mph at the time of the accident.

Graziano, an Iraq War veteran, remains at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa. His father, Ed Graziano, said the family would not release information about his condition.

Also this week, a hearing officer with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles set aside an administrative suspension of Bollea's license. That suspension was based on a blood-alcohol test taken after Bollea's crash.

The test showed Bollea had a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent the night of the crash. Florida law allows for the suspension of licenses of drivers under 21 who have a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 or higher.

In a one-page order, however, a state hearing officer "determined that there was not enough information to support the administrative suspension." The order did not elaborate on the decision.

"The decision made by the administrative hearing officer is based on his review and not the actions of the police," said Ann Nucatola, a spokeswoman for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Despite the finding, Bollea's license remains suspended for two reasons, Nucatola said. First, Bollea has an unpaid fine on an unrelated offense, she said. Also, he is charged with an offense that could result in the revocation of his driver's license.

Bollea's attorney, Kevin Hayslett said he made two arguments: The Clearwater Police Department used outdated and improper blood draw forms and there was no probable cause for the forcible blood draw.

However, Hayslett said the blood alcohol level is not a major part of the criminal case against Bollea.

"So at the end of the day, it may have no consequence on the criminal case," he said.

Elizabeth Daly-Watts, a spokeswoman for the Clearwater Police Department, said she could not comment because the department had not received the ruling Thursday.

Rosenwasser, the assistant state attorney, said the finding will have no affect on the criminal case.

Reach Tamara El-Khoury at tel-khoury@sptimes.com or (727)445-4181.

Second driver in Bollea car crash gets probation 02/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2008 11:57pm]

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