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Witness says he followed erratic driver through downtown Clearwater and predicted crash

Clearwater Fire & Rescue personnel extricate a man from this car, which crashed off S Fort Harrison Avenue into a drainage ditch, striking a sewage cap.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Clearwater Fire & Rescue personnel extricate a man from this car, which crashed off S Fort Harrison Avenue into a drainage ditch, striking a sewage cap.

CLEARWATER — Bill Overcast is good at getting behind bad drivers.

Three times he's followed drunks home, telling police about all of their swerving moves.

He said it's personal. His wife's grandparents were killed by a drunken driver in the 1970s.

So when he came across a car driving erratically Thursday afternoon, he knew what to do.

Overcast, 60, was behind the car, the two of them heading south on N Fort Harrison Avenue from Dunedin.

By the time Overcast navigated the telephone information system and got police on the phone, he found himself in downtown Clearwater.

Overcast said he saw the driver's car sticking halfway into the intersection at a red light. He thought the driver was dozing or in a daze. It took him a while to start back up at the green light.

"Somebody needs to stop this guy because he's going to kill somebody," Overcast remembers telling the Police Department. He followed the man for 10 minutes right up to the crash.

Near S Fort Harrison Avenue and Woodlawn Street, the car crashed into a drainage ditch, striking a sewage cap in the process, according to police.

That was about 1:40 p.m. Traffic would remain blocked off for two hours.

"It was … pretty massive," said Connie Latzo, 45, who witnessed the crash. "We weren't sure if he was going to make it out of there."

She ran for help from a fire truck nearby.

The man, who was not identified, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with injuries not thought to be life-threatening.

There was no information available Thursday about what caused the crash.

Times photographer Douglas Clifford contributed to this report. Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Witness says he followed erratic driver through downtown Clearwater and predicted crash 02/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 5, 2009 8:40pm]
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