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Inmates, deputy injured when Pasco jail truck overturns

Authorities investigate the crash of a sheriff’s truck Tuesday afternoon on U.S. 41 near State Road 52. Six inmates and the driver were injured, some seriously.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Authorities investigate the crash of a sheriff’s truck Tuesday afternoon on U.S. 41 near State Road 52. Six inmates and the driver were injured, some seriously.

LAND O'LAKES — A transport vehicle carrying Pasco County jail inmates overturned just before 2 p.m. Tuesday on rain-slick U.S. 41 south of State Road 52, not far from the jail.

All of the inmates were accounted for, according to Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. Six inmates and the jail deputy who was driving were injured. All were taken to hospitals.

Three of the inmates were expected to be treated and released back to the jail Tuesday. Of the other inmates, one was in fair condition, one in serious and one was in critical, Doll said.

He said he had no information on the deputy's condition.

The inmates were "trusties" — low-risk inmates with some work privileges — who were returning to the jail from a county work detail. Doll would not say exactly what work they were doing.

The names of inmates and the deputy were not released.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the single-vehicle crash. The vehicle was a military workhorse known as a "deuce and a half," because it could carry 2 1/2 tons.

The Sheriff's Office bought the 1995 vehicle for $3,500 last year from federal surplus for the jail's farming program. It spent $7,660 more to fix it up — sandblasting off the camouflage and painting it white with the sheriff's gold star.

The back of the truck was open, like a pickup, with a frame of metal bars and a tarp covering it.

Capt. Michael Ferrantelli, administrative division commander for the jail, said the inmates were not shackled or handcuffed during transportation.

In September, the St. Petersburg Times ran a story about the vehicle, which was supposed to replace the need for three to four pickups on their last legs at the jail. The truck could haul tons of feed for the jail's pig farm. It could transport inmates and citizens in disasters.

"This vehicle was built to withstand the rigors of war," said Major Brian Head, who runs the jail, in the story.

He lauded the strength of the vehicle — saying it was sturdy, roadworthy and that it would "outlast our careers."

Doll said he did not know Tuesday if it could be salvaged.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Inmates, deputy injured when Pasco jail truck overturns 02/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 10:10pm]
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