Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Public safety

Police find, question man who drove away from fatal Pinellas Park accident

PINELLAS PARK — A man whom police wanted to question after he drove away from the scene of a fatal accident turned himself in Friday, police said.

Investigators had been looking for Brett Koepke, 25, after he took the wheel of a friend's truck early Friday, leaving behind a woman who had fallen out the back of the truck. Police questioned Koepke, but no one has yet been charged in the incident.

"They're going to wait until the toxicology results come back and then they'll decide what, if any, charges are appropriate," said Pinellas Park police Capt. Sanfield Forseth.

The bizarre accident happened at about 2:20 a.m. Friday as a group of five people in a Ford F-150 pickup, including three women in the truck bed, left a nightclub on 66th Street N. The truck, driven by Russell Allan Clark, 24, ran over a curb near the RaceTrac on 126th Ave N, sending Lauren Gifford, 23, tumbling over the side, police said. She hit her head on the pavement and died.

After the truck stopped, police said, Clark got out, and Koepke took the wheel and sped off. The three women were left behind. Clark was found later, and police took a blood sample from him for testing. Police found the truck abandoned near Koepke's St. Petersburg home.

Comments
Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

TAMPA — Former Florida state Rep. Robert Wallace ended his life Monday by jumping from a Dale Mabry Highway overpass, records show. He was 65.At least one witness saw Wallace plunge 40 to 50 feet onto Gunn Highway, according to a Hillsborough County ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Man arrested after 3-year-old girl in his care found wandering streets

Man arrested after 3-year-old girl in his care found wandering streets

PORT RICHEY — A 59-year-old man was arrested Tuesday evening after a 3-year-old girl in his care was found wandering outside alone, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said they were sent to Larry Dixon’s residence at 8710 Bench D...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Largo police investigating fatal hit-and-run crash on East Bay Drive

Largo police investigating fatal hit-and-run crash on East Bay Drive

LARGO — Police have identified the pedestrian in a fatal hit-and-run Wednesday morning.According to Largo police, 75-year-old John William English Jr. was struck and killed by a car about 6 a.m. at Wertz Drive. The crash shut down the eastbound lanes...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Parents of Seminole Heights killings suspect processed at jail for house arrest

Parents of Seminole Heights killings suspect processed at jail for house arrest

TAMPA — The parents of a man accused in last year’s Seminole Heights killings reported to a Hillsborough County jail Wednesday morning to be outfitted with the GPS monitors they’ll wear during their six months of house arrest.Rosita Donaldson was boo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Police: Teen, 17, shoots Pinellas Park man who confronted him after car break-in

Police: Teen, 17, shoots Pinellas Park man who confronted him after car break-in

PINELLAS PARK — A Pinellas Park teen faces a charge of attempted murder after police say he stole a gun from an unlocked vehicle and shot the owner as he tried to give chase.Police say Brandon Paul Roman, 17, faces charges including attempted murder,...
Published: 02/21/18
Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver in Tampa

Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was fatally struck by a hit-and-run vehicle early Wednesday morning.Police say the pedestrian died at the scene after being struck in the 6900 block of E Adamo Drive.Eastbound lanes are closed at S Maydell Drive, according to the...
Published: 02/21/18
Her brother was a Hillsborough firefighter. Then he overdosed. What she hopes you learn from her hero.

Her brother was a Hillsborough firefighter. Then he overdosed. What she hopes you learn from her hero.

Editor’s note: This essay was written for the Tampa Bay Times by Dina Perez, the sister of Nick Perez, a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue employee who died in 2016 at age 27.You see firefighters and first responders on TV and they look like superheroe...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Fingerprint on Gatorade bottle leads to arrest of man, 23, in sexual assault of 71-year-old woman

Fingerprint on Gatorade bottle leads to arrest of man, 23, in sexual assault of 71-year-old woman

NEW PORT RICHEY — The 23-year-old man wanted in connection with sexually assaulting a 71-year-old woman on Monday left behind the clue that deputies said led them right to him: A fingerprint on a Gatorade bottle.Deputies said that and other evidence ...
Published: 02/20/18
County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday informally supported adding as many as 10 school resource officers in county schools, including one for every elementary school, in an effort to bolster security in the wake of the deadly school...
Published: 02/20/18
Next stop for Parkland school shooting survivors: the Florida Capitol

Next stop for Parkland school shooting survivors: the Florida Capitol

PARKLAND — Students who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School began a 400-mile journey to Florida’s capital Tuesday to urge lawmakers to prevent a repeat of the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty last week.Three buses carryi...
Published: 02/20/18