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Five remain hospitalized after Palm Harbor accident on U.S. 19

PALM HARBOR — All five people injured in a car wreck that shut down U.S. 19 Tuesday morning remained hospitalized Wednesday afternoon.

Officials with the Florida Highway Patrol, which is investigating the accident, said alcohol was not a factor in the 10:15 a.m. crash at U.S. 19 and Colonial Boulevard, just north of Alderman Road.

But investigators are still looking at the possibility that speed may have played a role in the crash, according to the FHP. Witnesses report that one of the vehicles, a 2005 Pontiac driven by 28-year-old Evan Andropoulos, was headed northbound at a high rate of speed before it hit a Toyota Highlander carrying 68-year-old John Little and 67-year-old Sylvia Benedetti.

No charges have been filed and no citations have been issued as the investigation continues, FHP officials said in a news release.

An FHP spokesman originally reported that Benedetti was driving, but corrected that Wednesday to say that Little was the driver of the Toyota.

Benedetti, of Endicott, N.Y., and Andropoulos, of Tarpon Springs, were both taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where they remained Wednesday in serious condition. Authorities originally reported that Benedetti was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

Little, of Palm Harbor, and Andropoulos' two passengers, Gavin Clarkson of Palm Harbor and Jennifer Daly of Tampa, both 28, were all airlifted to Bayfront. On Wednesday afternoon, all three were still listed in serious condition, the FHP said.

All five of the people involved were wearing their seat belts, a report shows.

According to authorities, Andropoulos hit the Toyota as it was turning north onto the highway from Colonial. After the crash, Andropoulos' Pontiac careened into a light pole, knocking it down across several lanes. All northbound and southbound lanes of the road between Alderman and Innisbrook Drive were shut down for more than an hour.

Five remain hospitalized after Palm Harbor accident on U.S. 19 03/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 7:19pm]
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