Below is a listing of many of the serious and fatal auto accidents in the Tampa Bay area. The accidents are in reverse chronological order and are based on publicly available information. We provide our comments and relevant Florida Statutes that may apply to the accidents. The lawyers at Swope Law, P.L. have helped hundreds of accident victims throughout the Tampa Bay Area during the last 15 years. Our practice is focused on auto accidents. Whether you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident, bicycle accident, or pedestrian accident, we can help. Call our 24-hour accident help line for a free consultation with one of our lawyers. “Choosing the right lawyer is no accident.”
St. Petersburg Central Ave Crash
March 2, 2014 – Terry Gue and Diane Gue were seriously injured in a crash with Gregory Grant on Central Avenue near the intersection of 68th Street North. Grant reportedly drove over the double yellow line into the path of the Gues who were headed west on Central Avenue. Florida Statute 316.081 states that “a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except as follows: (a) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing such movement; (b) When an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway; provided any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard; (c) Upon a roadway divided into three marked lanes for traffic under the rules applicable thereon; or (d) Upon a roadway designated and signposted for one-way traffic.” Police typically determine which car drove left of center through: 1) witness statements; 2) debris field; 3) skid marks; and 4) gouge marks.
Tarpon Springs Double Fatality
March 1, 2014 - Nicholas Ray Osborn and Marco S. Valez were killed in a crash on US 19 near the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Osborn was ejected from the car and Valez was found dead and seatbelted in the passenger seat of the car, which was submerged in a pond. Witnesses reported seeing another vehicle which may have been racing the vehicle in which Osborn and Valez were riding. Florida Statute 316.191 defines racing as “the use of one or more motor vehicles in competition, arising from a challenge to demonstrate superiority of a motor vehicle or driver and the acceptance or competitive response to that challenge, either through a prior arrangement or in immediate response, in which the competitor attempts to outgain or outdistance another motor vehicle, to prevent another motor vehicle from passing, to arrive at a given destination ahead of another motor vehicle or motor vehicles, or to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes. A race may be prearranged or may occur through a competitive response to conduct on the part of one or more drivers which, under the totality of the circumstances, can reasonably be interpreted as a challenge to race.” Racing is a criminal offense that can result in the violator being arrested. In a personal injury context, racing is an aggravating factor that can result in punitive damages being awarded to people who are injured by the driver’s conduct.
Palm Harbor Motorcycle Accident
August 18, 2013 – Anthony Riolo was seriously injured when his motorcycle collided with a van driven by Donald Hutwelker on County Road 1 at the intersection of Wexford Drive. Hutwelker purportedly was making a left turn from southbound County Road 1 onto Wexford Drive while Riolo was northbound on County Road 1. Velma McShane was a passenger in Hutwelker’s van and was also seriously injured. Florida Statute 316.122, titled “Vehicle turning left,” states that “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, or vehicles lawfully passing on the left of the turning vehicle, which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
Seminole Motorcycle Fatality
On August 3, 2013, Justin Johnson was killed when his motorcycle crashed into the side of a truck driven by Robert Sterner on Bay Pines Blvd. Johnson was headed eastbound when Sterner attempted to make a left turn from westbound Bay Pines Blvd into the War Veterans Memorial Park. Florida Statute 316.122, titled “Vehicle turning left,” states that “the driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction . . . which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
Seminole Pedestrian Fatality
On July 27, 2013, James Wheeler was struck and killed by a car driven by L.C. Dudley at the intersection of 113th Street and 74th Avenue North. Wheeler was in a crosswalk and had made it across two lanes before he was hit. Florida Statute 316.130(7), titled “Pedestrians; traffic regulations,” provides that “the driver of a vehicle at an intersection that has a traffic control signal in place shall stop before entering the crosswalk and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian, with a permitted signal, to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”
April 27, 2013 – Palm Harbor
Amanda Chakos was seriously injured when she was struck by an SUV driven by Equbal Kalani on Alt 19 north of Alderman Rd. Chakos was knocked into another pedestrian, Lori Baker, who was also injured. Chakos was reportedly not in a cross-walk, however, use of a cross-walk is not required by law if no cross-walk exists. Florida Statute 316.130, titled “Pedestrians; traffic regulations,” requires pedestrians crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk to yield the right of way to vehicles on the roadway. Pedestrians are also required to cross a roadway at right angles to the curb or by the shortest route to the opposite curb. If adjacent intersections have traffic control signals or crosswalks, pedestrians are required to cross the roadway at one of the intersection crosswalks. Despite the pedestrians’ obligation to yield the right of way to vehicles when they are crossing the road at a place that does not have a crosswalk, drivers are required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, bicyclists, and children. Florida Statute 316.130 provides that “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.” This statute entitles an injured pedestrian or bicyclist to a jury instruction at trial regarding a motorist’s responsibility to take evasive action. See Beeman v. Cosmides, 825 So. 2d 511 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002).
April 25, 2013 – Palm Harbor
Dany Ramos was killed when he was struck by a car driven by Shelly King on U.S. 19 north of Alderman Rd. Florida Statute 316.130 provides that “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.” This statute entitles an injured pedestrian or bicyclist to a jury instruction at trial regarding a motorist’s responsibility to take evasive action. See Beeman v. Cosmides, 825 So. 2d 511 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002).
April 19, 2013 – St. Petersburg
Alexia Douglas was killed in a single vehicle accident when the SUV she was riding in, being driven by Christina Shiver, struck a guardrail on 40th Ave NE. The SUV swerved to the right and crashed into a guardrail that went through the windshield on the passenger side. Florida Statute 316.1925, titled “Careless driving,” provides that “Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”
April 17, 2013 – St. Petersburg
Leo Carey, Jr. was killed when he was struck by a truck driven by Joshua Baron near the intersection of Park St and 54th Ave N. Carey was not in a crosswalk.
April 14, 2013 – Tampa
Ashley Thompson, Steven Cuervo, and Tonya Faris were killed in a single vehicle accident on Columbus Ave when the SUV they were riding in struck a wall and flipped. Kenneth Crouse was also injured in the crash. None of the occupants was wearing a seatbelt. Ejection – or worse, partial ejection – is the most common cause of death in a rollover accident.