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Three involved in fatal car crash Monday in Hudson identified

HUDSON — James Henry Risener was easy to find after a Holiday Little League baseball game. He'd be just behind the field's fence, waiting to congratulate his grandson.

No matter the outcome, Risener would tell Mikey how well he did. Just a few weeks ago, Risener joyfully complimented Mikey's double play.

"He was always there waiting for him," said Kevin Risener, Michael's father and James Risener's son. "He was always so impressed by him."

That game was the last time Kevin Risener saw his father. The Florida Highway Patrol identified James Risener as one of two people killed Monday in a traffic accident on U.S. 19 just south of Aripeka Road. Another person involved in the accident is still in critical condition.

James Risener, 59, was driving north on U.S. 19 about 1:40 p.m. in a 2003 Suzuki Vitara when he veered onto the shoulder for unknown reasons. He overcorrected, FHP said, crossed all three lanes of traffic, drove over the median and collided with a southbound 2002 Honda Civic.

Risener and a passenger in the Honda, Marti Patrick Smith, 53, of Spring Hill, died at the scene of the crash, FHP said.

The Honda's driver was identified as Francis Yeager, 72, of West New York, N.J. Yeager was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and listed in critical condition, FHP said.

Efforts to reach relatives of Smith and Yeager were unsuccessful.

Kevin Risener said he found out about his father's death when one of his sisters called late Monday. The whole family is shaken by the accident.

"It's very unexpected," he said. "It's hard to believe it happened."

Kevin Risener said his father was in good health at the time of the accident. He wasn't sick by any means. In fact, he just returned to Florida after taking an Alaskan cruise with one of his two daughters and her children.

Traveling was one of his favorite things to do. The Vietnam Army veteran owned a motor home and would drive across the country.

"He liked to see different things and places," Kevin Risener said. "He would find a place he enjoyed and he would go back."

James Risener was a devoted father and lifelong mechanic. When retirement proved to be too boring, he bought Suncoast Power Tool Repair in Hudson and kept working.

State records also show James Risener had a number of traffic citations. He received at least nine speeding tickets between 1999 and 2009. In March 2009, Risener's license was suspended for 30 days for having 12 points against his license within a year. He was cited for careless driving in a November 2009 crash.

The FHP report said he wasn't wearing a seat belt in Monday's accident.

The crash remains under investigation. The Highway Patrol said Tuesday's downpour delayed the agency's efforts to inspect the crash scene.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

Three involved in fatal car crash Monday in Hudson identified 08/09/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 8:52pm]
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