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Clearwater police investigate whether man intentionally hit by stolen car

Adam Cullison of Clearwater checks the damage at a neighbor’s home at 1389 S Madison Ave., where a man was pinned by a car.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Adam Cullison of Clearwater checks the damage at a neighbor’s home at 1389 S Madison Ave., where a man was pinned by a car.

CLEARWATER — After Brian Fitzsimons was mowed down outside his girlfriend's house by three men in a stolen car, his mother sat Wednesday afternoon in his room at Bayfront Medical Center, hoping doctors could save her son's foot.

"We're having a problem with it," his mother, Laura, said.

Fitzsimons, 31, was heavily sedated, drifting only into occasional consciousness throughout the day at the hospital.

He suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries early Wednesday while sitting on the stoop outside the house.

Police say three men in their early 20s driving a stolen 1996 white Ford Thunderbird veered off the road at 1389 S Madison Ave., first striking a mailbox, then Fitzsimons and then the house.

Police still are searching for the men, who fled on foot.

What initially appeared to be a tragic accident turned into a waiting game for Fitzsimons' family and an investigation by authorities to find the three men and determine if the hit-and-run was intentional.

Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts confirmed that authorities are looking at whether the driver hit Fitzsimons on purpose.

Neighbors who heard the crash rushed to help.

"I didn't want to look at (Fitzsimons' injury)," said Cynthia Golden, who lives next door. "Some of the neighbors told me it looked really bad."

Neighbors said Fitzsimons and his friends often sat on the stoop outside the house.

About 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, the car came careening toward the house, pinning Fitzsimons against it as he screamed for help. Jackie Evans lives across the street from Fitzsimons and came to help when she heard the crash.

As he was trapped behind the car, Fitzsimons was yelling that the men hit him intentionally, Golden said.

The home was significantly damaged and later declared uninhabitable. The stolen vehicle has been impounded, and the mailbox still lies knocked over in the front yard.

When police arrived, they used dogs to track the three men but were unsuccessful.

For Golden, who has lived in the neighborhood nearly 30 years, the hit-and-run came too close to home.

Wednesday's incident at the house on one side of Golden's home follows a 2005 burglary and shooting at the house on the other side.

In what she describes as an otherwise safe neighborhood, the incident now brings a bit of trepidation.

"I told my husband we need to put this house up for sale," she said.

Times staff writer Brant James contributed to this report. Brian Spegele can be reached at (727) 445-4154 or bspegele@sptimes.com

Clearwater police investigate whether man intentionally hit by stolen car 08/05/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 7:54pm]
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