Monday, January 22, 2018
Public safety

St. Petersburg officers investigating car crash find dying man nearby

ST. PETERSBURG — Police investigating a car crash caused by a 14-year-old driver early Sunday discovered a dying man in a front yard a few houses away.

Now they're trying to determine whether the two unusual incidents are related.

It began shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday, police said, when a Pontiac driven by the 14-year-old, with a 12-year-old passenger, was speeding and failed to make a turn on Sunfish Drive.

The young driver lost control of the car and struck a utility pole. The car kept sliding and came to rest in the yard of 3621 Sunfish Drive SE.

Zeffrey Mims, who lives across the street, said he emerged just after the crash to see three people running from the car and toward the house next door to his, at 3632 Sea Robin Drive.

He said a second car then drove through the neighborhood and appeared to pick up some of those who had fled the crash. That car sped away just as police units were arriving, Mims said.

After they arrived, police found a man in the front yard of 3632 Sea Robin Drive. About an hour after the crash, he was declared dead at Bayfront Medical Center.

Authorities did not release the cause of his death. Mims said his family had been told by police that there were no outward signs of trauma to the body.

Investigators said they know who the boys are who fled the scene, but did not identify them or say whether they had been detained.

Police said Sunday afternoon that they did not yet know the identity of the dead man. He was heavy set, about 25 to 35 years old, and wearing a gray shirt and red shorts, they said.

They were trying to determine whether the crash and his death are somehow connected.

Brenda Washington, who lives in the house at 3621 Sunfish Drive SE where the car crashed, said there were about 10 police vehicles clustered outside her home when she emerged about 5:30 a.m.

Tire tracks still could be seen Sunday afternoon in Washington's yard where the Pontiac had ripped up her grass.

She said she had no idea who the boys in the car or dead man in the yard might have been.

"They got to be connected," she mused. "It's just not coincidence that all that happened like that."

Anyone with information on the incident was asked to call the St. Petersburg Police Department.

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