The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida on January 14, 1995 · 15
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The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida · 15

Tampa, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 14, 1995
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THE TAMPA TRIBUNE Saturday, January 14, 1995 2 killed in explosive collision i Recreational vehicle, phosphate truck crash at intersection By LADALE LLOYD Tribune Staff Writer FORT LONESOME A monthly camping trip for retirees ended when an explosive crash killed a trucker and a camper and disintegrated a recreational vehicle in eastern Hillsborough County on Friday. Lowell Erwin, 84, was leading a group of Zephyrhills campers to a Hardee County camp site when his recreational vehicle collided with a phosphate truck at state roads 39 and 674. " The group was traveling south in a caravan of five vehicles on S.R. 39 about 10:20 a.m., Hillsborough County sheriff's Sgt. Nelson D. Zalva said. Erwin's 1985 Coachman camper pulled up to S.R. 674 and stopped for a flashing red light. An International tractor-trailer loaded with phosphate rock was heading west on S.R. 674, approaching a yellow caution light. The vehicles collided in the middle of the intersection. v "He had stopped at the stop sign and all of a sudden all we saw was a big explosion," said Mel Whitsell, traveling behind the camper in the caravan. Erwin was thrown from the vehicle. The truck driver, James D. Russ, 26, of Winter Haven, was pinned in the truck. The dead men were the only two in the vehicles. Erwin's wife planned to join him today at the Pioneer Park camp site near Bowling Green, Whitsell said. "I guess we're lucky there was no one else in that motor home," Zalva said. "On impact, the camper just disintegrated." The Coachman's front end and outer walls were torn off, looking more like it had been hit by a tornado than another vehicle. Its debris was strewn about 200 feet around the road. "The weight of the truck definitely contributed," Zalva said. "The minute you apply brakes, all the weight goes forward." The truck, leased by Trans-Phos Inc. of Bartow, was fully loaded with phosphate rock, the truck's owner, Larson Ernest, said. It was headed to the Port of Tampa. A check of both drivers' records show one previous accident for Erwin and none for Russ. Erwin was faulted in a June 10 accident, state records show. No other details on that accident were available Friday. The crash closed S.R. 674 nearly eight hours as authorities continued investigating and cleaning up debris. 1 - jl - 4 -Ui DAVE GEIGERTribune photo Emergency crews work in the background of wreckage from a fatal collision Friday between a recreational vehicle and a phosphate truck at Fort Lonesome . State Fair still country, with a twist A pinch of rock and a slice of soul spice the traditional down-home flavor of the lineup. By JANE K. MARTINEZ Tribune Staff Writer TAMPA From Boyz II Men to the Spin Doctors and Julio Iglesias, tickets are on sale for one of the Florida State Fair's most eclectic lineups ever. But country music lovers shouldn't fear, the slate is still heavy on country acts, including George Jones, Alabama, Clint Black and Lorrie Morgan, among a host of others. The 17-day fair opens Feb. 3 at Florida Expo Park, and adyance reserved-seating tickets to the concerts are already on sale at the fairgrounds box office and through Ticketmaster outlets. "We tried to book entertainment that would appeal to everybody," said Sandy Lee, spokeswoman for the Florida State Fair Authority. She said advance concert tickets, which range from $10 to $22.50, will include gate admission this year. Parking is free. But those who buy reserved-seat tickets after entering the fair, will pay for both the $7 entry fee and the concert, she said. "We want to encourage people to get tickets as soon as they can because they all are reserved seating except for the Spin Doctors," said Lee. The first concert will be John Berry and Ken Mellons, two up-and-coming country performers, on See MUSICAL, Page 3 A tt 1 I ft W! ....... ... I .!'. 'ft-' Jones Tribune tile photo A float from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla heads down Bayshore Boulevard during the 1993 parade. The mock pirate invasion, set for Feb. 4, will be part of a monthlong celebration" j Gasparilla '95: a mix of old and new By SEAN C. LEDIG Tribune Staff Writer v . ' Iglesias TAMPA Tampa's 1995 Gasparilla Festival will begin with a revamped public party at Busch Gardens and end with a renamed art showcase in downtown Tampa. In between the Feb. 3 Gasparilla Gala which replaces the short-lived Shipwreck Ball and the March 4-5 Festival of the Arts the new name for the Gasparilla Sidewalk Art Festival will be familiar features and expanded events surrounding the city's biggest bash of the year. Gasparilla's annual mock sea invasion and pirate parade for the fourth year will be just the centerpiece of a monthlong celebra tion marketed in the hope of attracting visitors from around town and around the country. The Gasparilla Gala, on the eve of the Feb. 4 invasion, is perhaps the biggest change. The 8 p.m. event will be staged at Busch Gardens instead of a downtown hotel, offering live music, a dance contest and a costume contest. Tickets already are available at 273-6495. "I think it's going to be a great way to kick off the weekend," said Darrell Stefany of EventMakers, the local Gasparilla'95 firm coordinating many of the events. "Whatever the Shipwreck Ball may have been lacking, I'm sure this won't. Now we're creating something that's really different and appealing to a lot of people." It's also seen as a solid tourism move when matched with a theme park promotion at the other end of the weekend: Busch Gardens will offer $10 off admission for anyone who shows up the day after the invasion with one of the mock coins tossed to the crowds by the pirates. "I believe we already get plenty of people in for the invasion day," Stefany said. "What we need to find is ways to continue expanding Pirate Fest Weekend to a multiday festival. So what we're trying to do by bookending the event with Busch Gardens is get people to come in and book a hotel for more than one night because there's reason to spend the whole weekend." The high-profile involvement of Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and other companies is important for another reason, too, he noted. "The sponsorships that help underwrite this festival are what's keeping so much of this free to the public when it gets more and more expensive." The main event, of course, is free because it's paid for by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the elite male social club that has staged the pirate parade almost every year since 1904. The Jose Gasparilla pirate ship sets sail from Ballast Point Pier at 11:15 a.m. about an hour after a full day of live music and other entertainment begins on seven stages downtown and docks at the Tampa Convention See PARADE, Page 3 Kaprat jury calls for death Killer's sentencing set for next month By GADY A. EPSTEIN Tribune Staff Writer BROOKSVILLE A Hernando County jury took 45 minutes on Friday to decide convicted murderer Edwin "Mike" Kaprat III should receive what Kaprat himself has said he deserves: the death penalty. The decision came a day after the same jury convicted Kaprat of raping and murdering 79-year-old Lyd-ia Riddell in her mobile home in 1993, and all but ensures that Judge Jack Springstead will sentence him to die by electrocution. Riddell was one of four elderly women to die in a string of brutal attacks in August and September of 1993. Kaprat is also accused in the beating death of an elderly man. Kaprat, 30, showed no reaction to the jury's recommendation, and he seemed calm as he walked out, telling his father, Edwin Kaprat Jr., to "take care." Earlier, Kaprat's father and Riddell's sister, Alice Devitt, consoled one another, crying and hugging each other outside the courtroom while the jury deliberated on the penalty. Kaprat told detectives in October he was responsible for the attacks. Kaprat said in the taped con fession he was "not suicidal" but thought he deserved to die for his crimes, according to taped excerpts played for the jury Friday. Citing such statements, Assistant Public Defender Daniel Lewan asked the jury not to give Kaprat what he wants. "By his own statements, he knew that he would 'fry like Ted Bundy,' " Lewan said during the penalty phase Friday. "He can't do it for himself. He wants you to do it for him." Kaprat slit his wrists in an apparent suicide attempt on the eve of the trial. His parents and uncle made emotional pleas to the jurors, urging them to spare the life of the divorced father of two boys. His mother, Ruth, cited serial killer statistics when she argued that society needs to know why her son committed these crimes. "The profile of a serial killer is my son," she said. "We've got to find out why." Kaprat's father blamed his son's crimes on drug See PARENTS, Page 7 jjsr"'! "-If Jf Edwin "Mike" Kaprat III raped and killed a 79-year-old woman. Shuffle would create single health agency The proposal will be debated by state legislators this spring. By CRAIG S. PALOSKY Tribune Staff Writer TAMPA Some lawmakers hope to merge the state's vast and varied health services into a single new agency this year. The new Department of Health would become the state's largest agency, overseeing everything from health reform and doctor licensing to child immunizations and drug-treatment programs. Similar proposals have failed in the past, but boosters and detractors alike say the concept stands its best chance yet this spring when lawmakers return to Tallahassee. Supporters argue the massive new department could better coordinate health services and respond faster to changing health systems, which increasingly emphasize cost controls and preventive health. "It would allow for a one-stop focal point for all health-care services," said Rep. Fred Lippman, a Hollywood Democrat sponsoring the plan. "That's the quickest way to reduce health-care costs." y See LAWMAKERS, Page 7 V COLIN HACKLEYTnbune photo Sing it out! Members of the Florida State Uni- hassee on Friday. Joseph Lowery, versity Gospel Ensemble sing during president of the Southern Christian the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Com- Leadership Conference, was the memoration Convocation in Talla- event's keynote speaker. State seeks dismissal of school finance lawsuit By ROB CHEPAK Tribune Staff Writer TALLAHASSEE A former state attorney general Friday urged a judge to rescue taxpayers from millions in new taxes and a long legal quagmire by dismissing a lawsuit against the state. Calling it a "slippery slope to chaos," Robert Shevin sought dismissal of a lawsuit filed by 45 school boards and 11 students who want a court-monitored overhaul of state education financing. But attorneys for the school boards and students told Judge L. Ralph Smith Jr. that lawmakers have not lived up to their constitutional obligation to adequately pay for the state's education system. The consequences in Florida of a woefully shortchanged education system are high dropout rates, low standardized tests scores and unprepared students, the school boards' maintain. They want the courts to order lawmakers to fix it. The attorneys argued in Leon County Circuit Court for more than two hours but Smith did not decide whether to dismiss the suit, which was filed last year. Florida taxpayers already have spent more than $375,000 to sue the governor, Legislature and education commissioner over the issue of adequate money for the state's 67 school districts. Every school board in West Central Florida joined the lawsuit except Pinellas County. Smith said he didn't understand why Gov. Lawton Chiles and Education Commissioner Frank Brogan are named as defendants in the lawsuit because they aren't directly responsible for paying for schools. The state constitution gives the power to appropriate money to the Legislature. Florida joins more than half the states nationwide in suing over See STATE, Page 7

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