VALRICO — A weeks-long dispute between two men, in part over whether one owed the other $14, ended fatally Wednesday when the alleged debtor ran over his accuser with a van, authorities said.
Timothy Dale Sanderson, 41, died after he was struck by a 1999 Ford Econoline van driven by Steven C. Stokes, 31, and pinned underneath, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Sanderson accused Stokes of owing him money, the Sheriff's Office said, and leapt in front of Stokes' van in an attempt to stop him as he drove off following a confrontation.
Stokes was not charged with a crime Wednesday, as the Sheriff's Office said it interviewed five witnesses who corroborated his description of the incident, including that he tried to stop the van before the collision. The Sheriff's Office released the following account:
Sanderson spotted Stokes standing outside his van about 12:45 p.m. near Pine Street, a paved road which dead ends into a dirt loop in a rural, heavily wooded area. The men started arguing, and Stokes got into his van and started to leave. Sanderson punched Stokes through the open driver's window, and a neighbor restrained Sanderson, preventing further attack.
Stokes drove off, but Sanderson chased, intercepting the van at the loop entrance on Pine Street. Sanderson jumped in front of the van, the Sheriff's Office said, was hit and pulled underneath. He was pronounced dead at the scene, near 4422 Pine St.
Two passengers in Stokes' van and three neighbors back up his account of events to deputies, the Sheriff's Office said. The investigation will continue.
Sanderson has a lengthy criminal record in Florida, state records show, with 29 arrests since 1992, and convictions including battery, theft and drug possession. He spent one year in state prison, according to the Florida Department of Corrections, for convictions in 2005 of battery on a law enforcement officer or first responder and driving without a license.
Stokes could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He has been arrested nine times since 2001, state records show, with convictions for illegally carrying a concealed weapon and battery.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.