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Suspect arrested in case of Safety Harbor man seriously injured when struck by car

Andrew Hall has tried to remain upbeat.

But that has been particularly difficult of late.

A week ago, the 19-year-old Safety Harbor resident — hospitalized since a car plowed into him last month, ripped away his left leg and shattered his pelvis — began to hemorrhage near the spot of the amputation and almost didn't make it, loved ones say. This was followed by word from doctors that his other leg needs surgery and potentially also could be lost.

"He's been upset," said Hanyn Arana, who is like a father to Hall.

On Friday, disappointment gave way to hope.

Informed by Arana that Joshua Dean West, the suspected driver in the April 20 accident that has caused him so much grief, had been arrested a day earlier, Hall smiled.

"I was certainly happy," Hall said Friday afternoon in a telephone interview from his room at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

West, 24, of Tampa, was picked up Thursday in Pasco County by the U.S. Marshals Service task force on a warrant for violating probation. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office had an active warrant unrelated to the crash for West's arrest.

He was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail at 11:52 a.m. Friday and is being held without bail.

Pinellas County deputies believe West was drinking and driving when he crashed a car into Hall, who has had cerebral palsy all his life, as Hall stood outside his Safety Harbor apartment waiting for a ride.

West 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 Honda Accord in which they were riding swerved onto the sidewalk, hit some mailboxes and a utility pole before smashing into Hall.

West ran after the crash but was caught about a block away. He has a suspended license and a history of driving infractions, including a DUI charge.

West was released from the hospital on April 22. A day later, the state Department of Corrections issued a warrant for his arrest on the probation violation. Authorities had not been able to locate him until Thursday.

"We have received word that (West) has been arrested," Pinellas Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said. "Our case is still open and under investigation. We have not placed any charges on him."

West declined a request to be interviewed.

"There's some relief," said Mary Arana-Andersen, who helped raise Hall. "It's such a senseless crime and to think someone would never pay for it just made it even worse. I couldn't believe somebody — if he did it — would hit someone and just run."

Hall said he always believed authorities would catch West.

"I'm just glad he can't act cowardly anymore and was found," Hall said.

Despite his recent setbacks, Hall intends to keep fighting. Someday soon, he hopes to see West in court.

"I hope he gets his life in order," Hall said.

Suspect arrested in case of Safety Harbor man seriously injured when struck by car 05/15/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 15, 2009 9:29pm]
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