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Questions linger in aftermath of deadly Tampa crash

TAMPA — Two days after surviving a car accident that left a teen dead, four young people remained at Tampa General Hospital on Friday — the least hurt of them able to go home, but refusing to leave the others.

"He's sleeping there," said Lori Yount, mother of 20-year-old Chaz Yount, who was driving the 1999 Toyota Solara that carried four passengers.

The front-seat passenger, 17-year-old Na'Quan Yancey of St. Petersburg, remained in critical condition. The conditions of two other passengers — cousins Kalima Haneef, 20, and Shontae Shaheed, 19 — were not made public Friday.

The fourth passenger, 18-year-old Alicia Shaheed, was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday at 9:26 p.m. She was Shontae's younger sister, and the pair were in town from West Virginia.

Police say the car was exiting Interstate 4 at E Columbus Drive when it was broadsided by a Mazda CX-9 sport utility vehicle driven by Randolph De Sylvia, 19.

Detectives are trying to figure out who was at fault and whether to charge or cite either driver, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

Plenty of other questions remained, too, such as why either Yount or De Sylvia was driving.

While Tampa police said their checks showed that Yount had a valid Florida learner's permit, the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said late Friday that the license is suspended because he failed to pay fines on bicycle citations in Pinellas County between 2002 and 2005.

All four citations were for riding a bicycle without a helmet, the earliest dating to when Yount was 11 years old, according to Pinellas County traffic court records.

With the unpaid fines, Yount shouldn't have been able to obtain a learner's permit, but did so in July 2010 because the state didn't connect his two records, said Courtney Heidelberg, spokeswoman for the department. The record for the fines included just his first and last name. His application for a learner's permit used his middle name.

An additional suspension was set for July 5 because Yount hadn't paid court fines and costs in a marijuana possession case, state records show.

Yount has been dating Haneef, the 20-year-old St. Petersburg resident, for almost a year, his mother said. The mother believed the Toyota belonged to Haneef.

De Sylvia, who suffered minor injuries, did not have a license. Just a week before the accident, on June 24, he was arrested for driving without a license.

On June 17, De Sylvia fired a pistol several times at the asphalt behind Empire Nightclub in Tampa, police reported. He was found to be intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of 0.13 percent.

He was charged with the use of a firearm while intoxicated, improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon or firearm, tampering with evidence, and obstructing an officer without violence.

On Friday afternoon, De Sylvia, who told police he is a student at Everest University, declined to speak with a reporter.

Also unclear Friday was what happened in the few hours before the accident. Lori Yount said her son told her they were headed to an auto repair shop where he works, though she did not know the name or why they would have gone so late.

She said he can't remember much from that night.

"He just remembers they were in the car and the next minute they were hit," she said.

By Friday evening, a Facebook memorial page had been created for Alicia Shaheed, who graduated from Morgantown High School in West Virginia earlier this year.

Morgantown principal Robert DeSantis said Shaheed was a good student who always had a smile on her face.

"She was extremely well liked," he said.

Shaheed's homeroom teacher, Katherine Sherald, recalled Shaheed as a punctual and respectful student. Her sister, Shontae, would often drop by and visit her in homeroom.

Shaheed planned to attend West Virginia University next fall. She would have joined her sister there.

Times staff writer Marissa Lang and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

Questions linger in aftermath of deadly Tampa crash 07/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 11:41pm]
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