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Car hits a St. Petersburg home, teen driver faces grand theft charge

A white Mazda crashed into a St. Petersburg home early Tuesday. Authorities were searching for the driver.

KATIE SANDERS | Times

A white Mazda crashed into a St. Petersburg home early Tuesday. Authorities were searching for the driver.

ST. PETERSBURG — Elna Bozarth was sound asleep at 5:40 a.m. Tuesday when she was startled awake by a loud noise. She thought the second floor had caved in.

"It sounded like a boom," said Bozarth, 85. "It took me a few minutes to collect my wits."

Once she did, she got out of bed, grabbed her walker, and summoned authorities with an alarm she uses in case she falls.

The boom Bozarth heard was the sound of a white Mazda smashing into her two-story house near her bedroom, ripping off the side paneling.

The driver abandoned the car and ran away.

Police traced the car to Carla Bartlett, 33, of the 2600 block of 18th Avenue N. Bartlett told Pinellas County sheriff's deputies that her 15-year-old son had just awakened her up to say he wrecked her car, deputies said.

Her son ran out the back door as deputies arrived, Bartlett said. She said he took the car without her permission.

A police dog tracked down the teen, who was arrested not far from his house. He was taken to a hospital for injuries from the crash and faces a grand theft charge.

The extent of the damage to the house was unclear. It was not the first time an errant car has collided with Bozarth's house, 4200 26th St. N.

Bozarth, who has lived there for 64 years, said a few years ago a drunken driver ran into the front porch.

This time, the Mazda went through the yard on the other side, where a fence and shrubbery might have slowed it down, said Bozarth's daughter, Lois Pendley, 65, who lives in Seminole, about 20 minutes away. One of the Mazda's tires was knocked off, and car parts were scattered throughout the yard, including the fender. The front two air bags deployed.

Pendley said her mother is fortunate to have emerged unscathed from both accidents.

"I just feel bad for her," she said.

Car hits a St. Petersburg home, teen driver faces grand theft charge 02/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 3:38pm]
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