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Police say driver in deadly Tarpon Springs crash may have been drinking

TARPON SPRINGS — The driver in a deadly one-car crash last month may have been under the influence of alcohol, police say.

After the accident, the driver, Garrett Bruce, 31, smelled of alcohol and was slurring his words, according to a sworn statement that was filed with a search warrant.

"There is some indication there was alcohol involved," said Tarpon Springs Cpl. Frank Ruggiero.

Bruce's blood was drawn after the crash. Ruggiero declined further comment until the department receives toxicology results, which are expected within a few days.

At around 3:15 a.m. on Dec. 11, Bruce of New Port Richey lost control of his 2011 Dodge Charger and hit a utility pole and water meter on Meres Boulevard.

Patrick Vosbein, 26, of Tarpon Springs, a backseat passenger who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown onto the hood of the car. He suffered "massive head injuries," Ruggiero said a few days after the crash.

Vosbein died three days after the accident.

An officer said Bruce was swaying and was belligerent to paramedics after the accident, according to the sworn statement by Ruggiero. Inside the car, police noted beer cans, some of which were unopened and others that looked like they may have burst upon impact. There were also two unopened beer cans and an unopened bottle of rum lying outside the car.

A second passenger told a detective that they were previously at Papa John's Pizza in Tarpon Springs, where they work. He admitted that they had been drinking beer but did not know how much Bruce had consumed. He said that just before the crash the speedometer appeared to read 70 mph.

The search warrant indicates that the Police Department was treating the crash as a potential incident of vehicular homicide or DUI manslaughter.

Police seized various items from the Charger, including two glass pipes and two Bud Light cans near the front passenger area of the car.

State records show no driving offenses for Bruce, who was issued a Florida driver's license in 2001.

Times news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4155.

Police say driver in deadly Tarpon Springs crash may have been drinking 01/10/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 7:40pm]
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