Pinellas County

South Pasadena truck driver dead, cops blame red light runner

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) - He moved to Florida to enjoy the good life.

Now a South Pasadena grandfather is dead, the victim of what Pinellas deputies tell us is a man intent on running from the law.

It didn't have to end like this. The Pinellas County Sheriff said if John Owa had just pulled over, he'd have gotten a ticket.

Instead, a long-time truck driver is dead and his family is devastated. 

“I heard and saw the car speeding up,” said Joshua Matz.

Out for a cigar break from work, Matz saw the cars collide at 49th Street and 5th Avenue North.

He ran to help.

In a Mustang, a badly injured Donald Young struggled to breathe.

In the other car, 27-year-old John Owa.

“All he was screaming was, 'I'm sorry,' ya know, 'I'm sorry.' That's all I heard 'cause like I said, my main focus was on the driver of the Mustang,” said Matz.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said members of a special squad discovered John Owa had a suspended license.

When they tried to pull him over, he took off, drove through neighborhoods on the wrong side of the road and blew through red lights. They tailed him from a distance.

“So they were somewhere around four blocks away. They didn't have emergency equipment on. They weren't pursuing him at the time of the crash,” said the sheriff.

Donald Young was one of five brothers from Rochester, New York. He has two daughters and a grandson, who he adored.

Young retired from a grocery store, drove a truck, moved to Florida, married his sweetheart and took another truck driving job.

“Never had an accident. Never. So cautious driving and it's just so hard to believe that this happened,” said his sister-in-law Jeannine Young.

Donald Young loved to hunt, the outdoors and his new boat.

“He's a jokester, liked to pick on people, always on the good side. He was loud and voiceterous, but everybody liked him,” said David Young, the victim’s oldest brother.

The other driver, John Owa of St. Petersburg, has a mostly-clear record.

Now, he's charged with a number of crimes, including vehicular homicide.

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