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St. Petersburg police clear firefighters who ran over homeless man

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have cleared the St. Petersburg Fire Rescue paramedics who ran over and injured a homeless man they were sent to help.

The St. Petersburg Police Department's final report said neither emergency medical technician and driver Jason Springer nor paramedic David Bucholz could see the victim lying directly in front of their fire station garage door on Sept. 24.

It wasn't until Rescue 5 pulled forward — dispatched to help Ted Allen Lenox, 41 — that the men felt the rear tire roll over his legs. Firefighters then poured out of the station at 455 Eighth St. S to free and treat him.

But police also uncovered evidence that suggests it wasn't a freak accident that left Lenox pinned under a 10-ton fire rescue truck — it might have been a failed suicide attempt by a drunken, despondent man.

The report cautions that the evidence doesn't prove, but rather "raises the possibility," that Lenox may have intentionally placed himself in danger.

Lenox had a 0.46 blood-alcohol level at the time, police said, nearly six times the level at which a driver of a vehicle would be presumed legally impaired.

Two witnesses told police Lenox was on his back in front of the garage bay door but propped up on his right elbow — and one of them said he saw Lennox like that after the garage door opened. "From the position Lenox had been witnessed in," the report said, "he was not passed out unconscious."

Two witnesses told police that Lenox seemed suicidal before the incident. A friend of his told police he was despondent that he couldn't help get his girlfriend out of jail, had given up on getting sober and often talked of taking his own life when he drank.

But when police went to the hospital to talk to Lenox, he denied a suicide attempt. He said he went to the station to get help for his high blood pressure but firefighters "ran him over."

When the police asked him why he hadn't gone to a doorway instead of the garage bays, the report said, Lenox said he chose that particular bay because he knew that's where the paramedic truck was parked. "He stated that he knew the rescue truck came out of the third door and that was why he laid down there," wrote Officer Mike Jockers.

The report noted that there was no record that Lenox had problems with blood pressure.

Reach Jamal Thalji at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

St. Petersburg police clear firefighters who ran over homeless man 10/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 10:49pm]
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