Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Canadian charged with DUI in Hurricane restaurant crash

Kenneth F. Hearn’s Ford sedan crashed onto the Hurricane restaurant patio in Pass-A-Grille on Saturday evening.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Kenneth F. Hearn’s Ford sedan crashed onto the Hurricane restaurant patio in Pass-A-Grille on Saturday evening.

ST. PETE BEACH — Rick Falkenstein was in the back of his Hurricane Seafood Restaurant Saturday night when he heard squealing tires, screams, cracking wood and smashing glass. And then eerie silence.

"I've been in this business since I was 8 years old," said Falkenstein, 58, whose family has owned the iconic restaurant since it opened in 1977. "I've never seen anything like it."

A car had crashed into the Hurricane, pinning a patron who was waiting on the patio for a table.

Kenneth F. Hearn, 56, of Newfoundland was drunk when he pulled into a curbside parking spot about 8:30 p.m. and hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, police said.

Hearn's gray Ford sedan hopped the curb, drove over about 10 feet of sidewalk and grass, smashed through a small white wooden fence, vaulted a bush and crashed onto the Hurricane's patio, finally stopping when it slammed into one of the restaurant's support beams.

Hearn, who told police he'd been drinking that day, hit a man who had been in the outdoor seating area. Several patrons rushed to the car, lifted it and pulled the man out.

The man, whose name was not released, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with what police described as nonlife-threatening injuries.

It could have been worse, Falkenstein said Sunday. A 3-year-old girl had been sitting in a highchair just a few feet from where the car crashed, and the usually crowded sidewalk was empty when Hearn hit the gas pedal. "By some blessing of the man above, there weren't many families walking around there at the time," Falkenstein said.

Hearn told police he'd been drinking beer "most of the day but moderately," according to an arrest report. He skipped lunch, he told police, but he had eaten some peanuts with his beer. He took Breathalyzer tests to measure his blood-alcohol level and registered 0.15 and 0.14, above the threshold of 0.08 at which Florida law presumes someone is impaired. Hearn was arrested on a charge of DUI crash involving injuries, a misdemeanor. He was released Sunday morning from the Pinellas County Jail after posting a $500 bail.

The Hurricane, at 809 Gulf Way, is a three-story restaurant in the Pass-A-Grille district overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

The man who was injured Saturday night had been sitting on a bench with his back to the street, Falkenstein said. His legs were trapped underneath the bench and he was bleeding from the head. Witnesses said Hearn appeared distraught.

Canadian charged with DUI in Hurricane restaurant crash 06/03/12 [Last modified: Sunday, June 3, 2012 10:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'

    Blogs

    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  3. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light

    Florida

    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  4. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling

    College

    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. PTA treasurer at Pinellas school accused of stealing $5,000

    Crime

    The treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Pinellas County elementary school faces a felony fraud charge after she was accused of stealing from the organization to pay her credit card and phone bills.

    Lisa McMenamin, 50, of Tarpon Springs, is facing felony charges of scheming to defraud the Brooker Creek Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer. She is accused of stealing $5,000 to pay credit card and phone bills. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]