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Police: Palm Harbor man crashed truck, punched firefighter

Times staff

CLEARWATER — A minor accident at Court Street and Myrtle Avenue turned violent Wednesday when a driver involved in the three-car wreck punched a firefighter and burned a hole in the pavement trying to get away, police said.

Gary Steven Cook of Palm Harbor was arrested Wednesday afternoon after he punched fire inspector Ron Neuberger, who had reached inside Cook's truck to make sure the ignition was off, Clearwater public safety spokesman Rob Shaw said.

No one, including Neuberger, was injured.

Cook was charged with driving under the influence and battery on a firefighter, a felony. He has three previous DUI convictions, police said.

The collision happened around 4:30 p.m. in the southbound lanes of Myrtle Avenue, just north of Court Street.

Officials expected the affected lanes to be closed until at least 8 p.m. so workers could fill a hole caused by the left rear wheel of Cook's truck.

"He hit the gas trying to get away," Shaw said, "and tore up the pavement."

Police: Palm Harbor man crashed truck, punched firefighter 06/12/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 9:55pm]
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