Make us your home page

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.


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

  1. (From left to right) Former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama address the audience during a hurricane relief concert in Texas on Saturday night.
  2. Manufacturing expo highlights locally-made products


    TAMPA — Thursday's inaugural Made in Tampa Bay Expo at the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry campus, drew manufacturers, on lookers and even Gov. Rick Scott.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott appeared Thursday at the Made in Tampa Bay manufacturing expo.
  3. Sunday Conversation: The bronzing of E.J. Salcines

    Human Interest

    There have been three professional versions of Emiliano Jose "E.J." Salcines. There were the decades the 79-year-old West Tampa native spent as a lawyer, including 16 years as an elected state prosecuting attorney. Then there were his 15 years as an appellate judge.

    Retired judge E.J. Salcines will have a statue unveiled in his likeness at the old Hillsborough County Courthouse near the WWII monument.  (For Sunday Conversation by Paul Guzzo)
  4. In neighborhood fearing serial killer, Tampa police escort kids to bus stops

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Police were escorting students to school bus stops this morning as they blanket the Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood during their investigation of three shooting deaths over a period of 11 days that they consider to be related.

    A school bus drives by the Faith Baptist Church of Tampa in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. [GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES  | Times]  

  5. Kriseman TV ad, mailer another chapter in Trump strategy


    With 15 days left before the St. Petersburg mayor's race is decided, Mayor Rick Kriseman's campaign continues to attempt to tie former mayor Rick Baker to Donald Trump.

    The latest mailer from Rick Kriseman's campaign continues to tie opponent Rick Baker to President Donald Trump