Thursday, April 26, 2018
Public safety

Brookridge woman, 79, dies in wreck driving husband home from hospital

BROOKSVILLE — Bernard LaPorta had just been discharged from Brooksville Regional Hospital on Tuesday night, and his wife, Ellen, had come to pick him up.

As they were leaving, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, Ellen LaPorta, 79, drove into the path of an oncoming car. She was killed; her husband remained in critical but stable condition Wednesday.

Bernard LaPorta, 85, initially had been admitted to the hospital Monday, complaining that he was short of breath, according to family members.

His wife was driving a Hyundai Elantra north on Medical Center Drive at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, on the way back to the couple's home in Brookridge, when, as she was crossing into the median on Cortez Boulevard, she was struck by an eastbound Buick Regal driven by 17-year-old Skye Evelyn Amato of Brooksville.

Amato suffered minor injuries, the FHP reported. Everyone was wearing seat belts, and alcohol wasn't a factor in the wreck.

The LaPortas' daughter, Katherine Poquette, and her husband, William F. Smith Jr., were waiting at the LaPortas' home when Ellen LaPorta called with the news that her husband was leaving the hospital, Smith said.

"We were so happy," he said.

An hour passed, and Poquette and Smith became worried that the couple had not arrived. They drove toward Brooksville Regional, retracing Ellen LaPorta's route.

"We pulled up on the accident," Smith said. "She gasped, and I told her, 'Don't think the worst yet.' "

Bernard LaPorta was hospitalized Wednesday at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson and had not yet been informed that his wife had died, Smith said Wednesday morning.

Natives of upstate New York, the couple moved to Florida in the 1990s after Bernard LaPorta retired from a career as a mechanic. His wife loved to crochet, and together they went on cruises, said Smith.

Poquette, one of the LaPortas' six children, said she was devastated.

"I don't know how to feel," she said.

Comments
Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

Suspect identified in string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City

PLANT CITY — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect in a string of carjackings from Orlando to Plant City.Deputies are searching for Majar L. Jones, 43, of Orlando.Jones may still be in a stolen 2002 green Ford F-150 with...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick-up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Updated: 9 hours ago
FHP identifies driver in crash that killed

FHP identifies driver in crash that killed "smiling" teen

TRINITY — Friends said what they’ll remember the most about Lillia Morris is that she was always smiling.The 17-year-old Mitchell High School junior was killed Tuesday when a sport-utility vehicle ran a red light on State Road 54 and slammed into the...
Updated: 11 hours ago
For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood High School principal Erin Savage has never planned a candlelight vigil. But this week, Savage must learn how to do so as her school mourns the tragic death of one of its graduating seniors.Bryson Welton-Williams, 18, died T...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

LAND O’LAKES — Kayla Peña filled up her water bottle then returned to her lunch table at Sunlake High School when she heard a commotion in the cafeteria on Tuesday afternoon.A female student was riled up, walking back and forth, Peña said, screaming ...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Man on Clearwater Beach pulled from water, hospitalized

CLEARWATER — A 33-year-old man pulled from the water north of Pier 60 was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon.Clearwater Fire & Rescue spokesman Rob Shaw said a bystander noticed the Dunedin man, who has not been identified, was in trouble and brought h...
Published: 04/25/18
State Road 54 closed after state trooper injured in crash

State Road 54 closed after state trooper injured in crash

WESLEY CHAPEL — A motorist suffered a medical emergency and crashed into six cars at a Wesley Chapel traffic light Wednesday, injuring a trooper, the Florida Highway Patrol said.The trooper, whose injuries were not life threatening, was airlifted to ...
Published: 04/25/18
Orlando armed carjacking suspect on the run in Hillsborough, authorities say

Orlando armed carjacking suspect on the run in Hillsborough, authorities say

PLANT CITY — Multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for an armed man responsible for a string of Wednesday morning carjackings, including one that involved gunfire, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Authorities described ...
Published: 04/25/18
Trinity teen killed in crash remembered as ‘positive’ and ‘smiling’

Trinity teen killed in crash remembered as ‘positive’ and ‘smiling’

TRINITY — Friends said they will remember Lillia Morris, who was killed Tuesday in a car crash, as always smiling.Morris, 17, was killed after a 2008 Chevrolet SUV ran a red light and slammed into her car at State Road 54 and Duck Slough Boulevard.Ka...
Published: 04/25/18
Man, teen face murder charges in Clearwater shooting

Man, teen face murder charges in Clearwater shooting

CLEARWATER — A man and teen face first-degree murder charges in connection with an apparent drug-related fatal shooting last week.Police say Daniel Curtis Battle, 28, and Malique Devon Gary, 17, shot Ricardo Guzman four times on Friday at Melrose on ...
Published: 04/25/18