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Woman dies when van plunges into lake

A 39-year-old St. Petersburg woman died after driving a van into Lake Sheffield late Thursday night, police said.

Police originally suspected that Amelia Treckey's van had been rear-ended by a hit-and-run driver, knocking the van into the small lake in the 2300 block of 49th Street N. But after further investigation, police decided Treckey had veered into the lake for some unknown reason.

"It was not a hit and run as was first believed," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Dan Bates. "There was no evidence that there was another car involved."

Treckey, who just turned 39 on Monday, lived in the 4900 block of 18th Avenue N, only a few blocks south of the lake.

Traffic officers said Treckey was driving a 1979 Dodge van south on 49th Street in the outside lane when the van veered to the left, ran off the road and flipped into the lake about 11:30 p.m. Rescue workers removed Treckey from the van and took her to Northside Hospital, where she was pronounced dead just before midnight.

The cause of the crash remains a mystery. The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy as well as toxicology tests on Treckey before ruling on what caused her death, police said.

Forty-ninth Street deviates from its straight-shot layout between 23rd and 25th avenues N, splitting to go around Lake Sheffield, a 7-foot-deep retention pond named for a pioneer family.

Over the past 14 years, Treckey has pleaded no contest to charges of reckless driving, possession of cocaine and marijuana, selling marijuana, lewd and lascivious act and aggravated battery, according to Pinellas County court records.