Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Walmart parking lot drama ends in arrest of 77-year-old woman

HOLIDAY — Harold Koller sat on his porch Tuesday afternoon. His chest and arms still ached; his hands were covered in cuts and nicks where he had clenched the windshield wipers.

"I had a hell of a job holding on," said Koller, 65.

"I knew if I fell off the car I was going to get hurt real bad."

It started over a parking space.

Both said they had their blinkers on Monday morning, assuring ownership of the spot in the Walmart parking lot at U.S. 19 and Ridge Road in Port Richey. Evelyn Danesi was in her 2003 Buick; Koller, in his Dodge minivan.

Koller got there first. He says he looked up to see Danesi, 77, yelling at him. She would later tell police he cut her off.

Koller, a retired tow truck driver from Amsterdam, N.Y., thought nothing of it. He got out of his car and headed for the Walmart. He looked back and saw Danesi park five spots away. She walked over to the side of the minivan and bent down before continuing into the store.

Suspicious, Koller went back to check where she had been. He found a 2-foot scrape along his passenger-side door. Another scarred the back door.

He punched the number for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office into his phone and then caught up with her in the lobby.

"Ma'am, you keyed my car," he said. He was going to call authorities.

Danesi flailed and screamed and denied doing it, he says. Another shopper asked if she was okay. She stormed off toward the garden department. He walked back to her car to get her license plate number.

Koller asked a man in the parking lot for a pen. Danesi came back out. She cranked up the Buick and threw it in reverse.

Koller jumped out of the way. He said the front bumper skirted his shins as she swung the car around.

"Lady, you're nuts!" he yelled. He was now standing in front of the car.

Then, he says, she floored it.

Koller was thrown on the hood of the car. He hung on. The car went up about five or six spaces and then braked hard. Six-foot skid marks spread on the pavement. He says he tried to ease himself off.

"Stop the car. I'm going to get off the hood," he pleaded. "I swear to God I'm going to get off the hood."

He said she gunned it again.

Back and forth, she swerved around the parking lot, he said. At one point they hit a parking block. The car lurched and almost sent him reeling, but he held on.

The car careened around an AT&T store farther down the lot. Up another lane. She circled a McDonald's. Employees and customers came pouring out.

When she came to a stop, they rushed the car. Someone snatched the keys from the ignition. Out of breath, Koller stayed on the hood.

Port Richey police arrived and took written statements from witnesses. Danesi was taken to jail.

• • •

Officer Gary Lush said the two were both in shock when police arrived. It surprised him, too.

"The kids do the keying and everything," he said. "You don't get a 77-year-old that does that."

Danesi told him it was self-defense, that she thought Koller was going to hurt her, he said.

"There was no malice in this lady trying to run this guy over," Lush said.

Danesi was booked at the Land O'Lakes jail on charges of criminal mischief and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. She was released on $10,000 bail.

No one answered at her Holiday home Tuesday.

Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Comments
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Strangers are coming together to honor two killed in Bayshore crash

TAMPA — John Reisinger has seen miracles since his niece and 21-month-old grand-niece were killed while trying to cross Bayshore Boulevard 30 days ago. Some, he says, are too painful to talk about. Others he’s still trying to make sense of, such as h...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Updated: 1 hour ago