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Safety Harbor 18-year-old critically injured when struck by car on sidewalk

SAFETY HARBOR — The deafening crash woke neighbors, some of whom raced out into the darkness with their flashlights.

What they found — a critically injured man, his severed leg lying in the street — horrified residents of Main Street early Monday.

"I was within 20 feet of his leg," said neighbor Jim Coy, 51. "I saw them pick it up and I about lost it. I've never seen anything like it."

Coy said Monday afternoon he had not been able to go back to sleep after the 1 a.m. crash that Pinellas County sheriff's deputies said was caused when a driver with a history of driving violations and no valid driver's license swerved onto the sidewalk and hit 18-year-old Andrew Scott Hall.

Hall was waiting for someone to pick him up outside his apartment at 1850 Main St. when the silver 2007 Honda Accord that deputies think was driven by Joshua Dean West, 24, crashed into him, according to the Sheriff's Office. Investigators think West may have been intoxicated at the time of the crash.

West, of Tampa, and his 24-year-old passenger, Douglas Zeigler of Clearwater, were speeding east on Main Street and went out of control near McMullen-Booth Road, deputies said. The Accord swerved onto the sidewalk on the south side of the street, hit some mailboxes and a utility pole before smashing into Hall.

The car continued along the sidewalk, leaving black skid marks, before hitting another utility pole and coming to a stop in a stand of trees. West ran about a block but "didn't get very far" before a canine unit deputy retrieved him, said sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha.

Hall was flown to Bayfront Medical Center. His left leg was severed at the hip, his pelvis was crushed and he suffered internal injuries.

Hall lives at the apartment with 28-year-old Allen Arana, the son of Hanyn Arana, the owner of Caramba's Mexican restaurant in Clearwater.

Reached at the hospital Monday afternoon, the elder Arana said he is not Hall's biological father but that he's been a "father figure" to Hall. "He's always been in our life," Arana said through tears.

Arana said Hall was in critical but stable condition and that his leg could not be reattached. Hall already had difficulty walking because he was born with cerebral palsy. "He's a fighter," said Arana, 57.

Allen Arana was sleeping in the apartment when the crash occurred, Arana said. A neighbor woke him up and told him there had been an accident.

"They're very lovely kids," said their landlord, Persa Tapalaga, 48.

Tapalaga said her adult son, who lives in one of her apartments, found Hall lying near the driveway and called 911. It was a gruesome scene, he told her.

Coy, the neighbor, said he tried to calm Allen Arana after the accident.

Coy, still visibly upset Monday afternoon, said he empathizes with Hall's family. He lost an 18-year-old son in a motorcycle accident a decade ago.

"I think of my son every damned day," Coy said. "I feel sorry for what they're going through over that kid. I just hope the kid makes it."

West, taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, told deputies a number of conflicting statements, Pasha said. West and Zeigler are not cooperating with investigators and refuse to confirm who was driving, Pasha said.

On Monday evening, West was listed in stable condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. Zeigler was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where he was treated and released.

West remains on probation after he was found with marijuana and cocaine at the age of 20, court records show. He violated that probation with a reckless driving arrest last month, according to law enforcement records. He was instructed this month not to consume alcohol, court records show.

West was arrested in 2007 on charges he drove under the influence without a valid license. In 2006, he was charged with driving an unregistered vehicle without a valid license.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Safety Harbor 18-year-old critically injured when struck by car on sidewalk 04/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:08pm]
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