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Holiday man charged with DUI manslaughter in two deaths

HUDSON — The pickup barreled east at nearly 90 mph on Denton Avenue, the three friends inside having just left the Players Club. It was Oct. 11, a Sunday, about 12:40 a.m. when the driver missed a curve near East Road. The Florida Highway Patrol said the truck hit a steel guardrail, sliding against the metal for nearly 100 feet, shearing off the front tire, rim and fender. The truck went airborne, flipping four times before colliding with a large steel power pole.

The truck's front passenger, Harry S. Diede Jr., 30, was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. The man seated in the back, Mark R. Whisner, 40, also died, pinned in the wreckage. The driver, Shawn Allen Cleaver, 35, was injured, but still alive.

On Monday, Cleaver was arrested and charged with the deaths of his passengers. Authorities said Cleaver was drunk — his blood-alcohol level between 0.124 and 0.125 percent, well above the 0.08 level where the law presumes impairment in Florida. Diede and Whisner were also drunk when they died, a report states. Diede's level was between 0.123 and 0.139 and Whisner's was between 0.311 and 0.326.

Cleaver is charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter, two counts of vehicular homicide and DUI with serious bodily injury. Cleaver, of Holiday, was released from Pasco County Jail Monday on $45,000 bail. It is his first arrest in Florida, say Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

Cleaver did not want to commentTuesday.

An obituary for Diede said he was known as "Buster" and lived in Hudson. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Whisner's obituary said he was a drywall contractor in Spring Hill and is survived by his wife, mother and two siblings.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Holiday man charged with DUI manslaughter in two deaths 04/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 8:31pm]
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