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Drunken driver kills pedestrian, police say

James Dean Jr., 53, of Palma Del Mar, is accused of killing a 24-year-old pedestrian.

James Dean Jr., 53, of Palma Del Mar, is accused of killing a 24-year-old pedestrian.

A 53-year-old drunken driver was arrested Wednesday after striking and killing a pedestrian walking along the shoulder of the Pinellas Bayway and then crashing his pickup, police said.

James Dean Jr., who lives in Palma Del Mar, didn't stop or call for help after hitting 24-year-old Timothy Wood, police said. Dean faces charges of DUI manslaughter, DUI property damage and leaving the scene of a crash involving serious injury.

The accident happened about 12:25 a.m. Wednesday, police said. Dean was driving his 2007 Ford pickup north on Pinellas Bayway S. Wood was walking on the east shoulder, outside the driving lanes. Dean drove off the road in the 7400 block and hit Wood.

Wood hit his head on the windshield and right front passenger window of the truck. His body then tumbled onto the shoulder of the road, police said.

Dean kept driving north, police said. His truck was missing its right front headlight and passenger side mirror. His right front passenger window was also broken. Shards of glass lay inside the truck.

Dean drove to the entrance of Palma Del Mar, but his truck struck the east side of the road and plowed through several bushes. He struck a median, turned around, and then came to rest in the median.

Police arrested Dean after he failed several field sobriety tests.

An arrest affidavit says Dean had "a blank, dazed, flushed, uncomprehending facial expression." He slurred his words, mumbled and had a strong odor of alcohol, the affidavit says.

Dean was released from jail on Tuesday evening, about six hours before the fatal accident. He had been arrested Monday on charges of simple battery, disorderly intoxication and having an open container.

Wood, a Connecticut resident, was visiting friends on vacation, according to his aunt, Jane Wood, 58.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Drunken driver kills pedestrian, police say 04/02/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 8:53am]
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