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Water scooter strikes, kills man in inner tube

A man being towed on an inner tube behind a water scooter was killed Saturday when another water scooter hit him near the Courtney Campbell Parkway on Saturday evening.

A purple water scooter was towing the victim on the south side of the parkway when a red Honda water scooter hit him, said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mac McMullen.

The purple scooter, operated by Jacques Simms, 31, of Tampa, was heading southeast, a Sheriff's Office report said. The red scooter, driven by Juan Carlos Nadal, 29, of Tampa, was heading northwest. As the vehicles passed one another, the red scooter ski made a circle maneuver and hit the tube rider.

Simms and Nadal did not know one another, the Sheriff's Office said.

The purple scooter was traveling more than 30 mph when the collision occurred, the Sheriff's Office said. The victim was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital and pronounced dead.

Deputies from the Sheriff's Office marine unit are still investigating the crash, McMullen said. It does not appear alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Authorities withheld the victim's name pending notification of his family.

Former U.S. House member hospitalized

MIAMI _ Former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Miami, was hospitalized after complaining of chest pains, officials said Saturday.

Meek, 78, the mother of Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital on Friday afternoon for routine tests after suffering the pains, said Drew Hammill, the congressman's spokesman.

The former congresswoman stayed at the hospital overnight and doctors found no evidence of a serious heart problem. She was in good spirits Saturday and was expected to be released by early today, Hammill said.

Dispute over Bush cutout leads to fight, arrest

GAINESVILLE _ A Democrat faces charges after police say he punched a local Republican leader and a life-sized cardboard cutout of President Bush.

David Philip McCally, 55, faces charges of misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief after the Thursday night scuffle.

He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to have no contact with Alachua County Republican Executive Committee chairman Travis Horn.

McCally, an instructor at Sante Fe Community College, was headed to a restaurant when he stopped inside the nearby GOP headquarters and punched the presidential cutout.

"I don't like old brother George," McCally said. "Truthfully, I kind of did it lightheartedly. I was just walking over there to order chicken, and I saw the cutout and I just walked in there and punched it."

Horn followed McCally outside and the two exchanged words before fists flew again.

Police who drove into the area during the fight witnessed McCally throw what they later learned was the first punch.

Horn suffered a cut lip and injured nose.

"If I have to take a beating every day for George W. Bush to be president, I'll do that," Horn said. "My passion for my beliefs continues unabated."

McCally said he was also injured, and said Horn should face charges for kicking him.

McCally will be removed from the classroom pending an administrative review, said college spokesman Larry Keen.

Man gets four years for perjury plot against police

MIAMI _ A man was sentenced to four years' prison for conspiring in a perjury plot to boost the chance of convicting four Miami police officers accused of beating him.

Alexander Anazco was sentenced Friday after he pleaded guilty in July to six counts, including obstruction of justice and making false statements, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami said.

His father, Asbert Anazco, pleaded guilty to charges including obstruction of justice and witness tampering in the scheme. A third man involved in the plot, family friend Armando Rodriguez, pleaded guilty in May to perjury and conspiracy. They are awaiting sentencing.

Rodriguez was the government's opening witness in a police brutality case and was still on the stand in the officers' retrial when he admitted lying. The retrial ended in January with dismissal of the charges and public embarrassment for federal prosecutors, one of whom quit a short time later.

Alexander Anazco said he had been beaten for throwing a rock at a patrol car.

The three men concocted an alibi for the rock-throwing incident a month after the beating. Rodriguez wrote a receipt and testified that Alexander Anazco's car was in his Hialeah brake shop the night someone in the car threw a rock at a Miami police car. That was two days before Anazco's arrest.

Rodriguez initially said he wasn't friends with Alexander Anazco, but in the retrial, he acknowledged being a longtime friend when the defense confronted him with reports showing he was one of his regular jail visitors.

_ Times staff and wire reports

WATCH OUT: Drivers headed south on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Tampa will need to take an alternate route as they approach Fletcher Avenue as engineers fill a sinkhole that opened in the road Saturday. It was about 12 to 15 feet deep, according to the Sheriff's Office. Vehicles were being diverted from Fletcher to 22nd Street to 131st Avenue, and back to Bruce B. Downs. The cause was not known.