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Woman killed in Brooksville ATV crash, deputies say

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Published:   |   Updated: April 8, 2014 at 05:27 PM

BROOKSVILLE - A 23-year-old Hudson woman was killed Sunday after being thrown from a four-wheeler at Whitehurst Pond in Brooksville, deputies said.

Jessica Oras died at the scene after the ATV she was driving with a passenger hit a bump and both were ejected, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Oras was with a group that went to the pond at 12094 Bourassa Blvd, just east of U.S. 19 and south of Hexam Road in Royal Highlands, to celebrate a birthday, deputies said.

The pond is located on private property.

Hernando County Fire/Rescue responded to the scene just before 5 p.m.

An investigation has found the party started around 11 a.m., and several people who attended rode ATVs and drank beer.

Around 4:30 p.m., Oras was driving around the pond with her cousin, Rachel Gernaat, on the back.

Oras accelerated, and hit a bump, and both women were thrown from the vehicle.

Oras received serious injuries, and Gernaat went to call for help with the driver of another four-wheeler.

The preliminary investigation shows no signs of foul play, according to the medical examiner.

Sheriff's office Public Information Officer Denise Moloney said no arrests were made at the scene.

In December, the sheriff's office spent five days cracking down on trespassers at the property, using all terrain and 4 wheel drive vehicles and the sheriff's office helicopter to locate trespassers.

From Dec. 27 to Dec. 31, 2013, deputies arrested two people, and issued seven arrest warrants and 57 trespass warnings.

Moloney said she hadn't been to the site personally, but said the property is not all fenced in, and that people who use the property for riding ATVs and partying might be taking the trespassing signs down.

Moloney said the property is a reoccurring problem area for the sheriff's office.

"We also utilize patrol and air unit to check the area almost every weekend when the issue is usually the worst," Lt. William Power wrote in an email to Hernando Today. Power said he had been involved in numerous operations at the property in past years.

The 581.3-acre property is owned by Thomas E. Bronson (trustee). The land has been privately owned since at least 1980, when the Hernando County Property Appraiser's sale records start, according to Kevin Johnston, valuation services administrator with the Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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