PINELLAS PARK – A Largo woman died early Jan. 18 after being ejected from the back of a pickup truck bed. Around 2:20 a.m., Pinellas Park police arrived at the scene of the RaceTrac Gas Station, 12574 66th St., where Lauren Elizabeth Gifford, 23, was pronounced dead.
Gifford was one of three women riding in the rear bed of a Ford F150 pickup truck driven by Russell Allan Clark, 24. Clark had a passenger in his front seat as well, Brett Koepke. The group had just left the Watering Trough bar on 66th Street.
Clark began driving erratically, and drove over the 66th Street median and then a curb in the RaceTrac parking lot. The bump over the curb caused the back of the pickup to jump, ejecting Gifford onto the pavement, where she hit her head.
Following the accident, Clark fled the scene by foot, and Koepke drove off northbound on 66th Street in the truck.
Clark was later located by police, interviewed, and had a blood sample taken for testing. Police were unable to locate Koepke, though the truck was found near his residence at 7361 46th Ave. N.
No charges have been filed, but are expected pending toxicology results.