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Woman headed to wedding planner killed in crash

11:42 AM, Jan 4, 2008   |    comments
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Davenport – At the scene of the accident there was crumpled steel everywhere and shattered lives. Witnesses were stunned. Rick Richardson is numb over what happened because his 26-year-old son Patrick is in intensive care following the accident. Patrick was injured in the pile up. Richardson says "My question is how do you have interstate highway speeds on a road that has access to stop lights, turns, left turns, right turns, whatever?"

Patrick was in a car with his fiancé' 26-year-old Heather Hurd. The two were headed to meet a wedding planner. Hurd did not survive. Richardson says “I lost a daughter in law today because somebody apparently didn't stop at a red light."

Even for those who haven't lost someone along US 27 many living in the area say it is a very dangerous stretch of roadway. They've even come up with a nickname for it. They call it bloody US 27 or bloody Highway 27.

Marcia Dennis, a former paramedic, has spent the last two years trying to get department of transportation, sheriff's officials and lawmakers to make changes along the roadway. 65 miles an hour she says is just too fast with people living, working and shopping right off the busy roadway.

Dennis says “It just breaks our hearts when we see something like that it's just one after the other."

Her neighbors are just as concerned saying they've offered up solutions. Ted Zachariadis says "I have even suggested that we as a community raise the money ourselves if the state doesn't want to put the money up for the traffic lights and they told us that was an impossibility."

Neighbors say they're more determined than ever now to convince department of transportation officials to lower the speed limit and install stop lights and caution lights to slow down traffic.

Zachariadis says “I think two more deaths were unnecessary for this they should have been put up from the accidents and the minor injuries that have happened."

Troopers say the truck driver who caused the accident is 61-year-old David Lunger. He has minor injuries.

Besides the death of Heather Hurd, 37-year-old Stephanie Phillips, of Haines City, was also killed in the accident while several others suffered minor injuries.

Tammie Fields, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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