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Driver fleeing police dies in Tampa crash

TAMPA — A man with a history of fleeing police lost his life doing that early Wednesday, authorities said.

Shannon Jermaine Wiggins, 35, hit two cars and crashed into a light pole at Cypress Street and Armenia Avenue, suffering fatal injuries. In the minutes before the crash, he ran a stop sign and two red lights and caught the attention of police officers all over the city.

The incident began just after midnight, when an officer in an unmarked car spotted a car circling suspiciously in the Belmont Heights area, Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

When the driver ran a stop sign, the officer tried to pull him over.

The car took off. The officer followed, keeping his distance. In the Ybor City area, the driver slowed down and started obeying traffic laws, McElroy said.

Wiggins drove toward Tampa International Airport and then over to Cypress Street and West Shore Boulevard. That's where he saw a marked police cruiser, accelerated and fled the intersection, McElroy said.

He ran a red light at Dale Mabry Highway and nearly hit another uninvolved marked cruiser, McElroy said.

McElroy said that officer made a U-turn and followed Wiggins, who ran another red light at Armenia Avenue.

The crash followed. Wiggins died there.

The two other drivers, 51-year-old Charles Zummo and 40-year-old Ricky Davenport, had minor injuries, McElroy said. Zummo was treated at the scene. Davenport was taken to Tampa General Hospital in stable condition.

Records show that Wiggins of 1804 20th Ave. in Tampa has been arrested 31 times in Florida and 23 times in Hillsborough County.

His most recent arrest was Aug. 5, on charges of fleeing a police officer, reckless driving, possession of marijuana and obstructing an officer without violence. After that arrest, Wiggins was released on $9,250 bail.

Driver dies in Tampa crash

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Driver fleeing police dies in Tampa crash 10/07/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 11:46pm]
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