Looks bad for Nick Hogan

Mar 17, 2006

Camera captures Hogan car moments before crash

Last Edited: Sunday, 11 Nov 2007, 1:33 PM EST
Created: Sunday, 11 Nov 2007, 1:33 PM EST

CLEARWATER - It could become a crucial piece of evidence in the criminal case against Nick Bollea.

A security camera captures the moments just before Hulk Hogan's son crashed his Toyota Supra into a palm tree, critically injuring his passenger, John Graziano. The tape shows the Supra and another car queuing up at a stoplight, then taking off. About a half-mile down the road is where the accident occurred.

Bollea's attorneys were the first to get their hands on the tape, after scouring area stores for any video surveillance, about ten days after the accident.

It was a surveillance camera at Jeff's Jeep Yard on Court Street in Clearwater that captured the video of Bollea's Supra, and the Dodge Viper his friend was driving.

"I was out of town, the individuals came into the facility, my guys couldn't get in contact me," explains owner Jeff Garland.

Unable to get in contact with Garland, his employees allowed the official-looking men to watch the surveillance video, thinking they were state investigators. When they returned a couple of days later and requested a copy of the tape, the employees gave them one.

But then, state prosecutors did come by weeks afterward, also seeking a copy of the video, surprising Garland and his employees. And it was almost too late.

"At that point, I took them in to try to obtain another copy of the surveillance equipment," Garland says.

The video had been taped over through an automatic process that recycles every twenty days. But Garland and his employees found a copy of the tape on a backup file on the computer's hard drive and gave prosecutors a copy.

The whole tape lasts only seconds, leaving a lot of open questions. Still, prosecutors will argue the video shows the two cars gunning their engines, preparing to race. Defense attorneys will say the visibly wet pavement caused the tragic accident, not Bollea's recklessness.

Jeff Garland isn't picking sides -- he says he just found himself in the middle, and wanted to do the right thing by handing over what he had.

"We didn't think from what was on the CD there was anything other than showing them pulling up to a light and leaving a light, but it is what it is," Garland says.

Nick Bollea has been charged with reckless driving involving serious bodily injury stemming from the August 26thaccident. That is a third degree felony. He's also been cited for use of a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony; a person under the age of 21 operating a vehicle with a breath-alcohol level of .02 or higher (.055); and illegal window tint.

The driver of the other car, Daniel Jacobs, has been issued a summons for reckless driving.