Three people killed in Pasco crash

TRINITY — For most of last year, Nicholas Plank couldn't drive his cherry red, convertible BMW because his license was suspended.

On Thursday, the 21-year-old got it back.

Barely two days later, he was driving it in the darkness on State Road 54 when he collided head-on with another vehicle.

Plank died at the scene early Saturday morning, as did his friend and passenger, Derek Giles, 17. Both were from Palm Harbor.

The driver of the other vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, also died. Dorly Kelly, 36, of New Port Richey, was wearing a medical uniform, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Kelly's husband, Edward, answered their home phone crying. He is 70 years old.

"I thought I would have been gone first," he said, sobbing, and hung up the phone.

Plank was traveling above the posted speed limit of 55 mph heading west toward Duck Slough Boulevard when he lost control of the BMW, troopers said.

Investigators concluded he swerved to the right and then overcorrected, veering left before crashing over the median and into the path of the Jeep going the opposite direction.

They hit head-on. It was 5 a.m.

"Even if he's going speed limit, that's a 110-mile an hour impact," said Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins about the deadly collision. "That kind of speed and that kind of impact, there's not a lot you can do."

As the sun rose, troopers found skid marks stretching hundreds of feet.

Troopers were investigating what caused Plank to lose control. They believe the BMW's excessive speed was a chief factor, Gaskins said.

Blood from both drivers was being tested for alcohol and drugs, as is routine fatal accidents. The road condition was clear, he said, with very little other traffic, if any at all.

Kelly was wearing a seat belt and going the speed limit, Gaskins said. Plank and Giles were not buckled up.

Plank's license was suspended in April for financial responsibility, which usually indicates a problem with car insurance, Gaskins said. Records show it was reinstated on Thursday.

Plank has received several traffic citations, including speeding and driving with a suspended license. He got a ticket in 2006 for going 46 mph in a 30 mph zone. In 2007, he was cited for going 57 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Troopers were still trying to determine Saturday where the victims had been before the crash and where they were headed.

Gaskins said troopers presumed Kelly was on her way to work because of her dress.

Friends said they didn't know what the young men were doing Saturday morning. But on Friday night, Giles had sent a text message to a friend and her cousin Aliesha Aguilar, 19. He said he was bored and wanted to see them.

But they were at the Pier in St. Petersburg, and didn't want to drive to Palm Harbor to pick him up.

"This morning I just keep thinking, I would have made sure he got home safe," said Aguilar, a senior who went to school with him at Pinellas Park High.

Giles was looking forward to enlisting in the Army as soon as he graduated this spring, friends said. He had already completed some training, his friends said. He loved to say he was "Army strong."

"He walked with his head up high. He was so proud of what he did," Aguilar said.

She said he acted like a protective older brother to his friends and urged them to stay in school.

Giles knew Plank through mutual friends at Publix, where Plank worked in the deli, said co-worker and friend Mike Wiseley, 21, of Palm Harbor.

Plank, whom Wiseley described as honest and hard working, had just started driving the BMW again. He had repairs done and worked out problems with his license, Wiseley said.

"He bought that thing himself," Wiseley said. "He was way proud of that car. He loved it."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609. Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Three people killed in Pasco crash 01/10/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 10:22pm]

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