Friday, November 24, 2017
News Roundup

Man uses research and angle of sun to beat Clearwater red-light ticket

RECOMMENDED READING


CLEARWATER — Richard Cornelius delivered his line perfectly, piquing the interest of the Municipal Code Enforcement Board, which was already flagging after just a half-hour of red-light camera appeals.

The seven volunteer members had already been compared to Nazi Germany by one angry offender.

When asked if he was guilty, Cornelius said he couldn't answer yes or no.

"Your picture says yes, but I've got an extenuating circumstance," said Cornelius, 64, whose car ran a red light at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road in September.

Cornelius' excuse? The Florida sun.

An early morning glare from the rising sun blinded him, Cornelius said. He researched the sun angle, contacting Cornell University for help. He took pictures of the sun slant from 23 degrees to the southeast, which the university told him was the same angle that rays had hit his car at 7:35 a.m. on Sept. 20, just a few days before the autumnal equinox.

He couldn't even see the traffic signal, Cornelius said.

"Yellow, green or what? The sun was coming right at me and I couldn't see," Cornelius said. "That's my story, I'm sticking to it."

The board was rendered momentarily speechless.

"I'm impressed by your ... ," said board chairman Duane Schultz, grasping for a response.

"Tenacity," interjected another board member.

"Anyone who has lived in this state for any length of time is well aware of what the sun does," Schultz said. "But I'm not sure that's an excuse for running a red light."

Turns out, it is. After watching the video, the board voted 4-3 to throw out Cornelius' ticket.

The Nov. 20 monthly code board meeting was the third one that included red-light camera ticket appeals. Several board members say they can't wait to be rid of the duty, which is slated to be turned over to a city-contracted hearing officer in January.

So far, the board has listened to 21 stories, excuses and tales of woe. All but Cornelius were assessed a $158 fine and most of them also were charged an administrative fee ranging from $50 to $150.

It's a tough evidence hurdle to clear. The board has photos and video of every offender snapped by cameras on Chestnut Street as drivers leave Memorial Causeway from Clearwater Beach as well as both directions at the Gulf-to-Bay and Belcher intersection.

Cornelius admitted that the board's decision surprised him.

"A little bit, yeah, a little bit," he said as he left the hearing.

His victory had cost him about 1 1/2 hours in research time and $10 to develop the photos.

And the car he was driving that sun-splashed morning?

A 2006 Chevy Equinox.

Charlie Frago can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago

Comments
Jon Mott wins record fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Jon Mott wins record fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

By BOB PUTNAMCLEARWATER — The Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot has long been a fixture on Jon Mott’s sporting calendar. Not even a 103-degree fever Tuesday could keep him away from the event, in its 39th year. Mott, a record four-time 10k champion, added ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

TAMPA — In the jubilant moments after a Bucs win, Dirk Koetter will sometimes ask for a game-used ball from his equipment staff, hold it high in the locker room and present it to the player who was most crucial to the victory.NFL players can ask for ...
Updated: 10 hours ago

 
Updated: 11 hours ago

Updated: 11 hours ago
Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

LARGO — Sydney Pender, 27, loved riding her motorcycle, even though she knew the dangers. Three years ago, her friend said, a delivery truck hit her. But she kept riding. On Thanksgiving, it was a crash with a taxi cab that killed her.Pender, a St. P...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Valrico intersection closed after car-sized hole opens in road

VALRICO — A hole the size of a vehicle opened up beneath the intersection of Nature’s Way Boulevard and Elm Grove Lane, Hillsborough officials said.The cause of the depression is unclear, but the intersection was blocked off to traffic.Hillsborough C...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Published: 11/23/17

Update: Mother, toddler hit by car in critical condition at TGH

TAMPA — A mother and one of her two small children who were hit by a car while trying to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday were still in the hospital on Thanksgiving, according to Tampa General Hospital.Cassandra Marie Spicola, 29, and 18-month-o...
Published: 11/23/17

Pasco County put under immediate tornado warning

The National Weather Service has put out a tornado warning for Pasco County. Thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado and strong winds are expected over Jasmine Estates, New Port Richey and Hudson until 1:15 p.m., according to the NWS warning. Ba...
Published: 11/23/17
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Published: 11/23/17