Florida has many popular bike trails that follow the shore lines of its many water ways. Some of the trails also run alongside busy highways. These trails can be somewhat hazardous because they are not always separated from the motor traffic by a retaining wall or other solid barrier. A recent accident near Tampa demonstrates how poorly bicycle and motor traffic mix.
A couple that were avid cyclists were riding their new tandem bicycle along the Pinellas Trail as it followed Keystone Road. A Chrysler PT Cruiser was traveling west on Keystone Road and was spotted weaving in and out of traffic on the two-lane road. As the Cruiser approached Keystone Road, the driver attempted to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone. A Ford Escape heading east on Keystone tried to avoid a collision with the Cruiser by steering onto the outside shoulder. The Chrysler struck the rear end of the Ford and caused it to roll over. The Ford overturned, rolled across the grassy shoulder, and onto the trial. As it rolled onto the trail, it struck the two cyclists, killing them both.
The driver of the Chrysler and the Ford were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of minor injuries. At the hospital, a state trooper noticed that the driver of the Chrysler appeared to have bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, body tremors, stuttering speech and other signs of impairment. A blood test was taken, and the results are pending. The man was arrested and charged with two counts each of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. He was being held in Pinellas County jail in lieu of posting an $80,000 bond. Police also revealed that the man had prior arrests and periods of imprisonment for trafficking in stolen property and drug possession.
The decedents were not married, but they appear to have been a couple for at least two years. Both individuals appear to have had close, supportive relationships with their adult children.
The survivors of the two deceased individuals appear to have strong wrongful death claims against the driver of the Chrysler. Survivors of individuals who die as the result of another person’s negligence can sue the negligent party to recover damages for loss of emotional and financial support. Anyone who has lost loved ones in a similar situation may wish to consult an experienced auto accident attorney for advice on filing a lawsuit for damages against the negligent party.