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Fiery Courtney Campbell Causeway crash sends four to the hospital

CLEARWATER — A 54-year-old woman was pulled from her burning car as four others were rushed to the hospital in a crash Tuesday evening on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

According to police, Antonio Hernandez, 19, was driving a Ford pickup with seven passengers inside just after 6:30 p.m. They were headed west.

Hernandez attempted to make a U-turn at the Damascus Road traffic signal when a 2006 Nissan Altima struck the right side of the pickup, officials said.

The impact sent the Altima, driven by Marlene Val-Belcher, spiraling off the roadway and into the sand of the Courtney Campbell Causeway beach.

Val-Belcher was still inside the car when its engine burst into flames, officials said. Witnesses pulled her from the burning vehicle before firefighters arrived at the scene.

Paramedics treated nine patients at the scene, four of which were taken to a local hospital, officials said.

Among them was a 9-year-old boy, who suffered injuries considered serious, but not life-threatening. A 23-year-old man, 26-year-old woman and 28-year-old woman were also hospitalized.

Hernandez was cited for driving without a valid license, no proof of insurance and failure to yield to oncoming traffic.

Both vehicles suffered severe damage, police said.

Some lanes of the Courtney Campbell Causeway were shut for several hours during the investigation.

Marissa Lang can be reached at or (727) 893-8804.

Fiery Courtney Campbell Causeway crash sends four to the hospital 09/12/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 1:17pm]
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