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Three Killed in Seminole Wrong-way Crash Early Christmas Morning

Photo of Joao and Arminda Martins (source: Facebook)
Photo of Joao and Arminda Martins (source: Facebook)

Three Killed in Seminole Wrong-way Crash Early Christmas Morning

Posted: December 25, 2014
Updated: December 27, 2014 (death of Arminda Martins)
Updated: December 29, 2014 (arrest of Paul Pulkownik)

**VIDEO BELOW**

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Three people have now died in the wrong-way crash in Seminole early Christmas morning.  A crash in which an suspected impaired driver traveled into the path of two oncoming vehicles all carrying members of the Martins family.

The crash occurred on Park Blvd and 131st Street just prior to 12:30 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2014.  Multiple crews were sent from Seminole Fire Rescue, Sunstar Paramedics, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol.

Crews reported three vehicles involved with heavy damage with multiple patients entrapped in their vehicles upon arrival at the crash scene.  All three vehicles were in the eastbound lanes of Park Blvd in the middle of the intersection.

According to Florida Highway patrol,  51 year-old Paul Edward Pulkownik of Largo was traveling westbound in a 1998 Ford Explorer on Park Boulevard in the eastbound lanes, approaching the intersection of 131st Street North in Seminole, Florida.

A grey 2009 Hyundai Sonata being driven by 58 year-old Isabel Martins of Largo was traveling eastbound on Park Boulevard in the eastbound lanes, approaching the intersection of 131st Street North. She was driving home from a family get-together with her inlaws, 84 year-old Joao Martins and 82 year-old Arminda Martins.

Isabel’s 23 year-old son, Matthew Martins of Largo, was also traveling eastbound and behind her vehicle in a a white 2007 Hyundai.  Within the intersection at 131st Street North, the Explorer collided head-on with the grey Sonata.  Following the initial impact, Matthew Martins sideswiped the left side of the grey Sonata, then collided head-on with the Explorer.

Isabel Martins, sustained fatal injuries and expired at the scene of the crash.  Joao Martins, expired one hour following the wrong-way crash at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.  Arminda Martins was transported in critical condition to Bayfront Health but died from her injuries the following day.  Matthew Martins sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene.  Matthew remained on the scene in-shock from the senseless tragedy that devastated his family in an instant.  He was left to watch as rescue workers attempted to free his mother and grandparents from the badly damaged vehicle.

Wrong-way driver Paul Pulkownik being assisted by City of Seminole Fire Rescue Department
Wrong-way driver Paul Pulkownik being assisted by City of Seminole Fire Rescue Department

Pulkownik, the wrong-way driver, was extricated and transported to Bayfront Health with minor injuries.  He has since been discharged from the hospital and went home.  It is unknown exactly where Pulkownik began traveling in the wrong direction and alcohol is suspected.

Paul Edward Pulkownik was arrested by Florida Highway Patrol investigators at his home located at 10443 Majestic Drive in Largo on December 29, 2014.  Delivered to the Pinellas County Jail, Pulkownik was charged three counts of DUI Manslaughter, three counts of Vehicular Homicide, one count of misdemeanor DUI-Property Damage, and issued one citation for driving on the wrong side of the road.

The crash closed the roadway until 6:45 AM.

The death toll from wrong-way crashes on Tampa Bay roadways in 2014 now stands at 16

NOTE: Moments before the crash a Deputy from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) observed and reported the Ford Explorer traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Park Blvd near Ridge Road.  That deputy was assisting with a disabled vehicle near that intersection and advised he was unable follow the Explorer.

IONTB was able to obtain a copy of PCSO Standard Operating Procedure POB-41 which reads, “Deputies must remain with the vehicle until assistance arrives if the vehicle is in the roadway and cannot be pushed to the roadside.” The copy obtained is dated May 25, 2011 and IONTB is unable to confirm if that policy has been modified since that date.

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