Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater woman critically injured in crash with tour bus

ST. PETERSBURG — A Clearwater woman was critically injured Wednesday morning after her car collided with a tour bus carrying a college baseball team from Minnesota.

The crash occurred at 8:09 a.m. on 34th Street at 22nd Avenue S.

Police said the woman, who was northbound on 34th Street, collided with the southbound bus.

"It looks like she made a left in front of the bus," St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said.

Police also said video evidence from a red light camera indicated the bus ran a red light. Investigators are still waiting for video from a different red light camera to determine where the Buick was when the light turned red.

The woman, identified as Virginia Joyce Frazier, 74, of Clearwater, and her male passenger, Eduardo Arana, 48, of Clearwater, were both taken to Bayfront Medical Center as trauma alerts. No one on the Heartland Tour Bus was injured.

Police initially reported the woman died, but then said hospital staff resuscitated her. Her injuries are critical. The man who was with her is expected to live, police said.

A cocker spaniel in the back seat of the Buick also was injured, but survived. The SPCA was called to pick up the dog, police said.

Hours after the incident, the 41 baseball players and coaches, who are from Rochester Community and Technical College, remained inside the bus as investigators handled the scene.

The bus had been on its way to a baseball tournament at Walter Fuller Park. The team missed a 10 a.m. game, but was expected to make one later Wednesday afternoon.

Head coach Steve Hucke, who was sitting near the front of the bus, remembers seeing a black SUV turn quickly in front of the bus, narrowly missing it.

"It was like, 'Oh that was close,' " he said. "Then I saw the white car coming toward us right after that. We felt a little jolt. It happened so quickly."

The bus, driven by David Scott Watkins, 33, of Viola, Minn., slid to a stop several feel away.

Hucke and others on the bus rushed to the Buick. He said they could tell immediately that the Buick's occupants were seriously injured.

The crash remains under investigation.

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