Pasco County woman drives to Hollywood 18 movie theater after accident, FHP says
By Erin Sullivan, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, June 11, 2009
PORT RICHEY A silver-haired woman sat on the steps of the movie theater and called out to the trooper.
"I think I'm the person you're looking for," she said, according to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol.
"Is your name Paulette Kochanski?" the trooper asked.
She said yes. It was Tuesday evening. The trooper asked her about an accident earlier on U.S. 19 and Regency Park Boulevard. She said she made a left turn on a green light and felt a nudge. Her truck is heavy and she thought she ran over something. She saw some debris in the road and the traffic stopping.
Then, she said, she continued to the Hollywood 18 movie theater and bought a ticket to see Terminator Salvation.
She said she didn't look at her car when she got out.
If she had, she would have seen chunks of it missing, as well as her spare tire, which was left at the scene. Kochanski, who is 54 and lives in Port Richey, pulled in front of a motorcycle on U.S. 19 a few minutes before 5 p.m., the report said. A witness followed Kochanski's truck to the movie theater. The truck had red paint from the motorcycle on it.
The trooper said Kochanski smelled of alcohol. When asked if she had been drinking, Kochanski said no. Her only medications were the anti-depressant Prozac and blood pressure medicine, the report said. She was asked to perform sobriety tests.
Kochanski started crying and asked the trooper about the motorcyclist.
"I just hope he's okay. Do you know how bad he is? Where did they take him?" she said, according to the report.
The trooper said the motorcyclist William S. Jolly, 31, of Hudson was flown to a hospital and was in critical condition.
It didn't seem that Kochanski could have bought a movie ticket, as her wallet was still in her car and she had no money or a ticket stub on her when she was found, the report said.
The accident happened while Terminator Salvation was already playing. The next movie wasn't until 7:35 p.m. By that time, she was under arrest and on her way to the Land O'Lakes jail. A breath test showed her blood alcohol level to be 0.116, the report stated. Florida's threshold to presume someone is unable to safely drive is 0.08.
In the booking area of the jail, the report said, Kochanski overheard the trooper telling a deputy that she hit a motorcycle and the driver was in critical condition.
"I didn't hit him," she said, according to the report, "he hit me."
Kochanski is charged with driving under the influence with serious bodily injury and leaving the scene of an accident. She was in the county jail Wednesday. Bail was set at $10,000.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, this is Kochanski's only arrest in Florida.
As of Wednesday evening, Jolly was still in the hospital, though his condition was upgraded to serious, said Sgt. Larry Kraus, FHP spokesman.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Last modified: Jun 10, 2009 08:23 PM]