Tuesday, February 5, 2008

...............120 mph

While the investigation continues into the recent tragic crash in Ocala FL, the Florida Highway Patrol has released the first of it's reports on it. They stated that they are still interviewing dozens of people who may potentially have information in regards to the incident and added that the Dision of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco has been asked to aid in the investigation.

FHP spokesman Lt Mike Burroughs stated that the BMW that Joshua Ammirato, 18, was driving was traveling at a minimum of 120 mph when the driver hit the brakes. He braked for 2 to 3 seconds and the car veered sideways. The BMW rotated clockwise as it left the end of the paved runway, overturned and went airborne. It then sailed over an 85 foot dip towards trees that were 200 feet away.

The car first struck a wire fence and a tree the investigators reported. The right side of the BMW then struck a second tree, shearing the car in two and the rear section struck a third tree. The reports states that all four passengers and the driver were ejected and the vehicle's pieces and the victims came to rest in a vacant lot in the 1400 block of Northeast 95th Street.

The FHP is still awaiting the results of a toxicology report and while they had originally stated that only the driver would be tested for alcohol, they added now that they may test all four passengers. The report does state that they have found no evidence that there was another car on the runway at the time and they have ruled out racing as a factor.

Just as in the Bailey Goodman accident in 2007, this report states that both young men in the front seats had been wearing seatbelts but the three passengers in the rear had not. Burroughs did decline to comment on the rumor that there is a pre-crash videotape of the car on the runway.

James Hime, 54, of Orlando FL and the father of James Hime stated that the specifics of the crash don't concern him anymore. His only concern now is that the crash may convince other young drivers to slow down. Hime is represented by two Orlando lawyers who specialize in wrongful death cases and Hime added that he doesn't blame the driver, Joshua, he does blame the parent.

It will be weeks or months before all that can be investigated, has been completed but in the meantime, the loss of these five young men will be felt within the community. It would be nice if James Hime wish were to come true...... even if it saves one young driver, someone elses child from the fate of his son.

For my earlier post, go here. For the latest post, go here.

Update: Feb 13

The FHP continues to ask possible witnesses to the events preceeding the accident, to step forward. Several have in the past weeks and those leads are being followed up on in an effort to get a much more complete report of that night.

The Star-Banner has learned that Joshua Ammirato had planned in the hours before the accident, to join other BMW M5 drivers at an un-named airstrip in South Florida for a future high-speed run. He responded with the comment of being "in" for it in an online post to an M5 message board, after reading posts from other members planning it.

Witnesses have stated that they saw two sets of headlights on the runway that night as well, suggesting that others had witnessed the accident but left before the police arrived. George Borger stated that he had heard cars running up and down the runway and the noise had woken him up. He added that he had also saw them on the runway, two cars at least, going very fast on it. His statement is consistant with the statement of another anonymous witness who stated that they had seen two sets of headlights at the south end of the runway and skid marks in the grass at the southend afterwards.

Ron Zupanic, 46 and an employee of John Travolta, stated that he had seen the firetrucks responding at about 3:45 am Jan 26 and followed them down to the accident site. Later that morning he found the remains of what he believes was a party held that night. He states that he found alcoholic beverage bottles scattered around the Jumbolair's clubhouse/reception area and pool area and others thrown in the trash cans on the south end of the runway.

Two other people who had access to the pool are but wish to remain anonymous, stated that they also saw the bottles and one had taken pics of them bagged as evidence by the FHD and sent those pictures to the Star-Banner. Jeremy Thayer, one of Jumbolair's owners stated that he didn't know of any party held on the property and added that it has always been a hotbed of rumors. He added that he only knows that the five had gained access to the airstrip somehow. The FHP would make no comment as to whether they had in fact bagged bottles as evidence, citing their obligation to protect an ongoing investigation.

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