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3 dead, 5 injured in 2-car collision

A man and two children were killed, and two women _ one of them eight months pregnant _ were hospitalized after a two-car collision Sunday. The pregnant woman, Teresa Kirkman, 27, of Lutz was operated on late Sunday at Tampa General Hospital, and both she and her baby apparently are fine, said Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Jack Espinosa.

A 48-year-old woman, a 34-year-old woman and a 3-year-old child also suffered injuries in the accident in front of Blaikie's Steaks and Lounge on Nebraska Avenue.

The man and the children were passengers in a 1979 Mercury driven by Pamela Ryan, 36, of Lutz, who apparently lost control of the car about 5:15 p.m. and collided with a 1988 Toyota station wagon truck. Ryan was listed Sunday in serious condition.

Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said alcohol may have been a factor in the accident, but they are still investigating. The identities of two of the people killed were not released pending notification of relatives. Ryan's son, Larry Gordon, 8, died in the crash.

"Anybody involved in this accident got banged up pretty good," said Espinosa. "There were little kids. This is the worst we've seen in a while."

The accident was in front of the restaurant, about a block south of the point were Nebraska and Florida Avenue meet. Late Sunday afternoon, the bodies of the children lay covered with white sheets several feet beyond the smashed remains of the blue Mercury.

Sheriff's officials and witnesses gave this account of what happened:

Ryan was driving south on Nebraska when she lost control of her car just before the entrance to Blaikie's. She swerved toward the parking lot and then swerved back onto the road and crossed into the northbound lane.

The Toyota rammed into the right side of the Mercury, throwing the two children from the car and knocking the right door about 30 yards east. The Mercury turned more than 180 degrees and landed in a ditch near a railroad track that runs east of Nebraska.

Thomas Van Aman, who said he arrived at the accident site one minute after the collision, said six people in U.S. military uniforms tried to revive the two children before paramedics arrived.

"They worked on the young girl for about five minutes," said Van Aman, who was heading south on Nebraska when he came upon the accident. "I think they were trying to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."

Micheline Ruiz lives in the Windsor Park subdivision, south of where the accident occurred, but said she still could hear the collision from inside her house.

"I heard crash . . . and I thought, boy, it must be a bad one," Ruiz said.

The Toyota had a Polk County license tag, and the Mercury had a Hillsborough tag.

Espinosa said he did not know if any of the passengers were wearing seat belts. A child's car seat was on the back seat of the Toyota.

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