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One person rescued from car after St. Petersburg gas station canopy collapses

ST. PETERSBURG — Firefighters have rescued a woman who was trapped in her vehicle after a gas station canopy was blown free by Tuesday evening's thundershowers and heavy winds.

She was taken to a local hospital in stable condition, said Lt. Joel Granata.

The incident was reported at 5:08 p.m. at an Exxon gas station at 2929 28th St. N, across from St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue Station 10.

When the canopy was blown free it also crashed into the gas station building itself. It pushed the car on its side.

"The roof of the car was crushed to the steering wheel," Granata said.

Firefighters called in backup from fire crews across Pinellas County, and the department's technical response team had to use hydraulic-powered cutting and prying tools to free the woman.

"We were able to remove her safely," Granata said. "She had cuts and scrapes on her."

Gas station attendant Wendell Welker, 48, of St. Petersburg, said he and two customers were inside the store at the time of the incident. The woman, a regular customer, had just pulled up in a maroon sedan and parked near the door.

Welker said he heard a loud sound just before the canopy toppled.

"Dude, I hit the floor," he said. "I said 'we're in a tornado.'"

He said the next thing he heard was the woman screaming for help. He called 911.

"If there's anybody out there who doesn't believe in God they better start believing," he said later.

Granata said officials were able to shore up the canopy, which is not expected to be moved until Wednesday at the earliest, during which time the gas station will be closed.

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One person rescued from car after St. Petersburg gas station canopy collapses 01/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 12:13am]
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