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Motorcyclist runs 2 lights, dies in crash

Published Sep. 1, 2005

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

A 19-year-old motorcyclist was killed Sunday night after he sped away from a Pinellas sheriff's deputy, then ran a red light and struck a car.

Kenneth S. Capelo of Palm Harbor was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at Main Street and Belcher Road. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Minutes before the 10:22 p.m. crash, a sheriff's deputy saw Capelo run a red light at Main Street and County Road 1. The deputy flipped on her lights and tried to stop Capelo, but he sped off on his 2002 Honda motorcycle, sheriff's officials said.

The Sheriff's Office forbids pursuing traffic violators because of the potential danger to other motorists. Deputies typically only pursue people suspected of felonies, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said.

"This was not a pursuit," she said. "He left at a high rate of speed."

The deputy turned off her lights, then turned south onto Virginia Street. At that point, she wasn't trying to follow the motorcycle. She didn't know about the accident until hearing of it over her radio, Pasha said.

After speeding away from the deputy, Capelo continued east on Main Street to Belcher Road, where he ran a second red light and struck a 1980 Z-28 Camaro on the driver's side, according to sheriff's reports. The Camaro was traveling north on Belcher Road and had a green light, Pasha said.

The Camaro's driver, Robert D. Spatafora, 31, of Clearwater, was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with injuries that were not life-threatening, Pasha said.

Pasha said deputies hadn't determined Capelo's speed, but she said "witnesses said he was going very fast."

Capelo's family, through a friend, declined to comment Monday.

_ Chris Tisch can be reached at 445-4156 or