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Boyfriend in mailbox death charged with DUI manslaughter

Police removed the mailbox on the far right for evidence after 20-year-old Angela Gaskin struck it with her head last year.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Police removed the mailbox on the far right for evidence after 20-year-old Angela Gaskin struck it with her head last year.

PINELLAS PARK — Angela Gaskin spent the last night of her life drinking with a couple of friends, getting kicked out of a bar and sticking her head out the passenger window of a truck on her way home, police say.

The 20-year-old was killed when her head hit a mailbox.

Now her boyfriend, who was driving that night, has been charged with DUI manslaughter.

Karl Jeckel, 25, was arrested Monday, almost 10 months after Gaskin's death. Besides the driving-under-the-influence charge, Jeckel is accused of driving with a suspended license. He was released from jail Monday night on a surety bond.

Police say Gaskin would be alive today if Jeckel had not drunkenly veered his truck into the gutter next to the mailbox.

"I hope he actually pays for this, for killing my daughter," said Gaskin's mother, Valerie Gaskin.

An arrest warrant described what investigators say happened the night of July 14:

Jeckel, Gaskin and Ashleea Smith started drinking at Down the Hatch, at 8010 49th St. in Pinellas Park. Jeckel bought two "double crown bombs," each made with two shots of whiskey mixed with Red Bull.

The trio then went to Applebee's at 4000 Park Blvd. about 11 p.m. Jeckel paid for a pitcher of beer, six mixed drinks and a large Pepsi. Applebee's staffers told police they "vividly" remember the group because they were "loud and borderline disorderly."

The staff asked them to leave after Jeckel was caught sliding a mixed drink to Smith, who was 21 but did not have her ID with her. Jeckel's tab was closed at 11:50 p.m.

Jeckel was headed east around the 4700 block of Lake Boulevard in his 2005 Chevy Silverado when the truck veered into the gutter. Gaskin stuck her head out of the passenger window and hit the mailbox. Jeckel drove to Northside Hospital, where Gaskin was pronounced dead.

Gaskin's mother told the St. Petersburg Times last year that Jeckel stopped the truck, saw a "hole in her head and got on On-Star and drove to the hospital."

Jeckel's blood-alcohol levels that night were 0.12 and 0.10 more than three hours after the accident. Florida's level of presumed impairment is 0.08.

After Jeckel was arrested, he waived his Miranda rights, telling police "he had nothing to hide because he was not drinking or using drugs."

Because of a backlog at the crime lab, it took 10 months after the crash to make an arrest, said Capt. Sanfield Forseth of the Pinellas Park police.

Jeckel was a Coast Guard aviation electronics technician in Clearwater before he was discharged in March 2009.

Gaskin, who was from Ocala, had recently moved in with Jeckel at 3817 102nd Place N in Pinellas Park, about a mile from the crash.

"I know how my daughter is," Valerie Gaskin told the Times in July. "She did what she wanted to do. She was spontaneous. I can see her doing that. I can see it being a total accident."

But Gaskin, 43, of Ocala, said she was too grief-stricken in the days after her daughter's death to comprehend what had happened. She now believes Jeckel's recklessness led to the tragedy.

"This boy has no respect for anything or anybody," she said.

Gaskin said "there's not even an hour or five minutes that go by" without thoughts of her daughter.

Times staff writers Jamal Thalji and Rita Farlow contributed to this report.

Boyfriend in mailbox death charged with DUI manslaughter 05/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:01pm]

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