Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man arrested in wrong-way Christmas Eve crash that killed three

Authorities have arrested the man they say was drunk and driving the wrong way in Seminole early Christmas morning when he collided with another vehicle, killing three people.

Records show the alleged wrong-way driver, Paul Edward Pulkownik, 51, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.319, or nearly four times the level at which Florida law presumes someone is impaired. The test was performed 90 minutes after the crash.

Pulkownik was arrested Monday afternoon at his Largo home and charged with three counts of driving under the influence-manslaughter, three counts of vehicular homicide and one misdemeanor count of DUI with property damage. He also was issued a citation for driving on the wrong side of the road.

Pulkownik was driving a Ford Explorer in the wrong direction on Park Boulevard about 12:30 a.m. Thursday when he crashed into a car occupied by the Martins family of Largo, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Joao Martins, 84, and his daughter-in-law, Isabel Martins, 58, died that day, troopers said. Joao's wife, Arminda Martins, 82, died Friday at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

The Martinses were on their way home from a traditional Christmas Eve celebration when investigators say they were hit by Pulkownik. Pulkownik had just left a friend's house where he had consumed two or three beers, he told authorities at Bayfront Heath St. Petersburg. He was treated for minor injuries after the collision.

Before he was transported to the hospital, Pulkownik was asked to produce his driver's license by a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy. He fumbled through his wallet, according to a search warrant for his truck, and first provided his credit card and then his ID.

His speech was slurred, according to the warrant, and his breath smelled of alcohol. One empty and one full can of Natural Ice beer were found in the Explorer.

Arminda and Joao Martins, known as "John" by family members, were together for 63 years. They emigrated from the same seaside Portuguese village and moved to New Jersey to raise their two sons before retiring to Largo 20 years ago.

Their daughter-in-law Isabel was born in New Jersey and moved to Largo in 1988. She was a customer service representative for Winn-Dixie Supermarket in Seminole.

All three were members of the Portuguese American Suncoast Association, St. Petersburg.

A funeral Mass for all three is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at St. Jerome Catholic Church in Largo. Afterward, they will be interred at Serenity Gardens Memorial Park, also in Largo.

Times staff writer Laura C. Morel contributed to this report. Katie Mettler can be reached at kmettler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kemettler.

Man arrested in wrong-way Christmas Eve crash that killed three 12/29/14 [Last modified: Monday, December 29, 2014 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.