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Body found in back of car destroyed in St. Petersburg crash, fire

St. Petersburg police investigate a crash at 22nd Avenue S and 22nd Street on Monday morning. A body, police believe was the driver of a Pontiac Firebird, was found in the back of the car, which had collided with a Chevrolet Suburban and caught fire.

LUIS PEREZ | Times

St. Petersburg police investigate a crash at 22nd Avenue S and 22nd Street on Monday morning. A body, police believe was the driver of a Pontiac Firebird, was found in the back of the car, which had collided with a Chevrolet Suburban and caught fire.

ST. PETERSBURG — Firefighters battling a fiery two-car crash early Monday made a grim discovery: a human body inside the back of one of the cars.

The crash happened about 2 a.m., when a tan Chevrolet Suburban headed west on 22nd Avenue S struck the side of a white Pontiac Firebird headed south on 22nd Street.

The Firebird was pushed 50 feet, where it ran into a utility pole causing sparking power lines to ignite the car. The Suburban came to rest upside down a block away. Debris from the crash, including a brightly colored racing jacket, was spread across the area.

Investigators did not say which car caused the collision but think one or both was traveling at excessive speed.

Emergency responders found the body in the rear of the burning Firebird, a car with a hatchback and no trunk. Police think the impact might have pushed the body to the rear of the car, said George Kajtsa, a St. Petersburg police spokesman.

The body was so badly burned it may take weeks to identify, police said. It was not immediately clear how the person died. Witnesses reported seeing two people running away from the crashed Suburban.

Power was cut to nearby homes. Police closed off both streets within a block of the crash scene as they investigated.

Alberta Davis, 44, who lives on 22nd Avenue near the scene, said damage to the Firebird was shocking.

"When I first saw it, I just started praying," she said.

Body found in back of car destroyed in St. Petersburg crash, fire 11/17/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:23pm]
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