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Cabdriver killed as suspect flees police

CLEARWATER — A few months ago, Joshua James Donahue took a job as a cabdriver after he couldn't find other work, his mom said.

Early Monday, Brian Keith Ferry Sr., who has been arrested on at least four driving-under-the-influence charges in Florida and whose license was revoked more than eight years ago, ran a red light and killed Donahue, police said.

Donahue, 32, of New Port Richey planned to drive the cab just one more week before quitting, said his girlfriend's mom, Janet Blydenburgh. He was supposed to be packing today to move with his girlfriend, Jaime, to Old Town, Blydenburgh said.

"He was a wonderful man," she said. "I was very happy he was in my daughter's life."

Donahue was born in Syracuse, N.Y., and came here in 1998. He had three daughters and worked as a bartender at Boomerz, a popular Seminole nightclub, which has closed. He used to live in Seminole and mostly worked in construction and warehouse jobs, said Donahue's mother, Sandy Morrissette of Madeira Beach.

"He was just a big lovable guy," she said.

Here's what happened Monday, according to authorities:

Police tried to arrest Ferry on an outstanding warrant after getting a tip that a man wanted for failing to appear in court for driving with a suspended or revoked license was at the Copper Mug Bar at 1463 S Belcher Road.

Ferry, 47, of Largo left the bar about 1:45 a.m. Officers tried to pull over his 1998 Dodge Ram, but Ferry sped north on Belcher. Police followed, but did not use emergency lights.

Shortly afterward, Ferry ran a red light and crashed into Donahue's Yellow Cab on Drew Street, authorities said.

Donahue was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital and pronounced dead at 2:35 a.m.

Officers did not chase Ferry because his misdemeanor warrant did not qualify as grounds for pursuit, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts. Under department policy, police can pursue fleeing suspects only when they have committed or attempted violent felonies.

Ferry was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, then later booked at the Pinellas County Jail on charges of vehicular homicide, fleeing or eluding and driving with a suspended or revoked license causing injury. He was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Police said alcohol was a factor in the crash and are awaiting the result of a blood test.

Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Cabdriver killed as suspect flees police 04/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 9:10am]
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