CLEARWATER -- Nick Bollea, the teenaged son of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, this morning was charged with reckless driving involving serious bodily injury in connection with an Aug. 26 wreck that left a passenger with serious brain damage.
Bollea turned himself in to Clearwater police and is being booked in to the Pinellas County Jail, officials said. He arrived at the jail handcuffed and accompanied by two Clearwater police officers. He did not answer any questions on his way into the booking area. (Watch video of his arrival)
Bollea, 17, was at the wheel of a speeding yellow Toyota Supra that went out of control and slammed, rear-bumper first, into a palm tree in the median on Court Street, officials say. The wreck critically injured Bollea's friend and passenger, 22-year-old John Graziano. The Supra, which was owned by Bollea's famous father, was totaled (see photo from the crash at right).
Reckless driving with serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony. In addition to that charge, authorities cited Bollea for using a motor vehicle in commission of a felony, being a driver under 21 operating a vehicle with a breath-alcohol level of .02 percent or higher and having illegal window tinting. The blood-alcohol level at which Florida law presumes a driver to be impaired is .08 percent.
Police said today that Bollea's car was going faster than 60 mph at the time of the crash. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 40 mph.
Authorities have said from the start that speed was a factor in the crash. In the days after the wreck, witnesses told the Times and investigators they saw Bollea's Supra racing a silver Dodge Viper on the rain-slicked road moments before the crash.
Today officials also issued a summons to appear in court for the driver of the Viper, 22-year-old Daniel Aaron Jacobs of Dunedin. He faces a charge of reckless driving. Police said that although Jacobs and Bollea were racing before the crash, Jacobs was not direct cause of the wreck.
Graziano, a Dunedin High School graduate and U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, suffered a broken skull and has been comatose at Bayfront Medical Center since the crash, according to medical professionals who examined him and submitted reports on his condition to court. He likely will need lifelong nursing home care and at best will only be able to open and close his eyes periodically, they say.
-- Tamara El-Khoury, Times staff writerPhoto by Jim Damaske | Times