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Tyrone Dudley, victim in I-275 car chase wreck, dies

ST. PETERSBURG — A passenger in a Cadillac that crashed on Interstate 275 Tuesday night has died.

Authorities say the driver of the car, Tommy K. Walls, 24, sped away from St. Petersburg police officers who tried to pull him over about 8:30 p.m., then lost control of the car near the Fifth Avenue N exit.

Walls was on probation, had lost his driver's license, had several outstanding arrest warrants and had crack cocaine in his car, authorities said.

"He's got a million reasons to flee," said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

The passenger, Tyrone Dudley, was thrown from the car. The 26-year-old died overnight at Bayfront Medical Center.

Walls, who was not injured, is now in the county jail, held without bail on several charges stemming from Tuesday's wreck. He could face more serious criminal charges, such as vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter. That decision will be made by prosecutors after the Highway Patrol completes its investigation.

St. Petersburg police Lt. Jorge Sotolongo said an officer tried to pull over Walls after he ran a stop sign at 38th Avenue N and 34th Street just after 8:30 p.m.

The Cadillac sped east on 38th Avenue, drove through a red light, then sped south onto I-275 with its lights off. Police did not pursue the car but alerted officers in the area to watch for it, police said.

Just before the Fifth Avenue N exit, police said, Walls lost control, hit a guardrail and sideswiped another car.

Court records show Walls has a long list of drug arrests and traffic infractions dating to 2003. His arrest reports show that about 0.035 ounces of crack cocaine was found in the vehicle.

Paramedics drew blood from Walls, Gaskins said, which will be used to determine if he had alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the crash.

Walls currently faces charges of fleeing or eluding resulting in death, being a habitual traffic offender, possession of cocaine and violating his probation on past traffic and drug charges.

Staff writer Drew Harwell and researchers Caryn Baird and Will Gorham contributed to this report.

Tyrone Dudley, victim in I-275 car chase wreck, dies 02/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:45pm]
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