Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fatal crash in Dunedin kills visiting Indiana county's coroner

DUNEDIN — A longtime Indiana coroner vacationing here with family died Thursday after he lost control of his vehicle and drove into a ditch.

Authorities say a medical condition may have played a role in the crash that killed Martin Avolt, 70, coroner of Tippecanoe County in Indiana.

The crash happened at about 9 a.m. as Avolt drove west on Curlew Road with his 13-year-old grandson.

That's when the boy pointed out that Avolt — in the right-turn-only lane that turns into the Waterford Crossing subdivision at Challenger Drive — was in the wrong lane.

Authorities say Avolt abruptly swerved to the left and lost control — striking several traffic barriers, crossing into the eastbound lanes of Curlew and skidding off the road. The vehicle went through two chain link fences, down into a wooded ravine and came to rest against a tree.

Avolt's grandson was uninjured. He got out of the vehicle and flagged down deputies, who called for help. Avolt was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

News of Avolt's death quickly spread across the Internet on Thursday. Media reports say Avolt, who lived in Lafayette, Ind., was visiting his son, daughter-in-law and their grandchildren in Palm Harbor before school starts.

The Lafayette, Ind.-based Journal & Courier reported that Avolt had served eight years as deputy coroner, spent nearly 20 years in the top coroner job and was running unopposed for the office this November.

Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh credited Avolt with revolutionizing his industry.

"What a wonderful, wonderful man he was," Murtaugh told the Journal & Courier. "He has absolutely led the charge in professionalizing the office of coroner for the state of Indiana."

The Pinellas Sheriff's Major Accident Investigation Team is continuing to investigate the incident.

Peter Jamison can be reached at or (727) 445-4157.

Fatal crash in Dunedin kills visiting Indiana county's coroner 08/16/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 16, 2012 8:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  2. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  3. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  4. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 26-July 2.


    Vans Warped Tour: The festival returns Saturday to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, featuring shock-metal icons Gwar, hardcore punks Sick Of It All, ska band Save Ferris and indie-pop group Never Shout Never ($39.50-$49.50). vanswarpedtour. …

    Crowd for the Motionless in White band at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour at Vinoy Park, Friday, July 25, 2014.  CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times