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Crash course ends in arrest

A 58-year-old Dade City woman has been charged with hitting at least four cars and two people in a four-mile string of auto collisions Sunday. As she shopped in the Kash n' Karry grocery store on U.S. 301, police detained Olive Barthle Simpson shortly after the estimated 10 minutes of collisions, Dade City Police Officer David Duff said. Simpson had parked her car after hitting two cars in the lot, officials said.

"She was pretty incoherent, going from one subject to the other. She didn't make much sense," Duff said.

There was no indication Simpson knew any of the people she hit, Duff said. Accounts on the number of cars hit varied because several law enforcement agencies were handling different parts of the case.

Two men were struck as they left their cars to confront Simpson. They were treated at Humana Hospital-Pasco in Dade City and were released.

Dade City police and the Florida Highway Patrol gave this version of events:

Simpson, who gave a post office box in Dade City as her address, had been driving her yellow 1979 Volare east in the westbound lane of Sunburst Drive, south of the city, at 12:20 p.m. She collided with a car, and when the driver got out, she threatened his life, accelerated and struck him. The driver's name was not available.

Simpson continued west on Sunburst and rear-ended a car driven by Tammy Lynn Yaeger. Simpson then headed north on County Road 35-A, stopping her car at the ramp to U.S. 98 just short of a car driven by Ronald Abbott.

Simpson slumped at the wheel, and as Abbott got out of his car and began to approach her, she drove at him and struck him. Abbott was lifted onto the hood and carried a short distance before falling off. He suffered cuts to his head, arm, leg and back.

A witness followed Simpson on U.S. 98 to the Kash n' Karry at Morningside Drive in Dade City, about four miles away. Simpson hit two cars, then parked and entered the store. She was shopping when a Dade City officer found her. Highway Patrol officers arrived and arrested her.

Simpson was charged with aggravated battery with a motor vehicle, aggravated battery and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident that involved property damage, reports said.

Damage to her car and a Cadillac in the supermarket parking lot was estimated at $1,000 each. Other damage estimates were not available.

Simpson was receiving treatment at a crisis center Monday before returning to the West Pasco Detention Center. Her bail was set at $50,000.

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