Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Months after bicycle accident, Leslie Curran plans return to St. Petersburg City Hall

ST. PETERSBURG — In her first public statement since she was seriously injured in a cycling accident four months ago, council member Leslie Curran said Wednesday she will be returning soon to City Hall.

"I'm doing much better building up my strength," Curran told the St. Petersburg Times during a brief phone interview. "I can't wait to get back."

Curran, 54, said she's not certain exactly when that will be, but left open the possibility it could be on Jan. 6, in time for the council's first meeting of the year.

"I want to make sure I'm ready," said Curran, who aside from a scratchy voice sounded like herself.

Curran suffered severe head injuries on Aug. 30 after she fell off her bike, which had reached a speed of about 19 mph, as she cycled through the Lakewood Estates neighborhood with a friend.

"It was an accident, I don't want to go into any detail," Curran said. "I just feel lucky to be alive."

Curran, who was wearing a helmet, suffered a severe concussion and was placed in an induced coma for several days. She breathed with the help of a ventilator for about a week. In mid September, her daughter, Stacey, was granted guardianship of Curran so she could take care of her mother's finances and personal issues.

Friends and colleagues say Curran has been putting in long hours in physical therapy.

"She wants to be back the first of the year," said council member Jeff Danner. "That's been her goal all along. She's as sharp as usual. There doesn't seem to be memory loss. No damage. That's not the issue. Energy is the big factor now. It's getting into the rhythm of a daily routine. It's wanting to come back at 100 percent and be ready to go."

Council members earn nearly $40,000 and meet each week to vote on issues ranging from the budget to major public works projects like the Pier to ordinances like the ban on street solicitation. Curran won't have as many duties when she returns because her one-year-term as council chairwoman expired this month when board members elected Jim Kennedy as the new leader.

"I'm hoping to get her back in the first week of January," said Mayor Bill Foster. "We did okay without her, but we'll be a better city when she comes back."

Curran's prolonged absence exposed fissures in the city charter's order of succession, which had previously named only the vice chairman as the next in line. In October, the council added the former chairman and the next senior members.

Her injury also proved to be an awkward one for City Hall officials to handle, testing the balance between privacy concerns of elected officials and the public's need to know about their representatives. Information about her condition has been closely guarded by family members. Public officials, meanwhile, were vague about the progress of Curran's recovery, with everyone from Foster to council members declining to provide details in deference to Curran's family's wishes for privacy.

Even with her imminent return widely acknowledged, the informal gag order continued this week.

On Wednesday, council member Steve Kornell told the Times that Curran's district didn't suffer from a lack of representation during her absence because he and her other colleagues picked up the slack.

But when asked how he and others pitched in to help, Kornell declined to answer. "The Curran family has asked for privacy, and I respect that," he said.

Danner said Curran, a council veteran, is returning knowing the demands of the public spotlight.

"She knows what the job is," Danner said. "She may be thinking that she's not ready yet for an interview where someone is firing questions at her to test her."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or

Months after bicycle accident, Leslie Curran plans return to St. Petersburg City Hall 12/29/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 10:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: A proud moment for civic involvement in Hillsborough County


    It took private citizens less than 24 hours to do what their elected leaders in Hillsborough County could not for the past three months: Find the moral fortitude and the money to move a century-old Confederate war memorial from outside the county courthouse. Thursday's achievement was a lesson in leadership to county …

    The Hillsborough County Commission dithered for three months over moving the Memoria in Aeterna monument from the old county courthouse.
  2. Fort Myers woman arrested for doing cocaine off iPhone in parent pick-up line

    Bizarre News

    A Fort Myers woman was arrested Tuesday after police saw her snorting cocaine off her iPhone while in the parent pick-up line at a Lee County middle school.

    Christina Hester, 39, faces two different drug-related charges, according to police records. [Lee County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic


    UPDATE: At 5 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  4. Editorial: Pinellas should join lawsuit challenging new state law


    The Florida Legislature has been on a cynical, constitutionally dubious quest to render local school boards powerless. The most direct assault is a new state law that strips school boards of much of their authority when it comes to the creation and funding of charter schools. It's time for the Pinellas County School …

  5. Editorial: Fix funding unfairness in Florida foster care system


    Many of the children in Florida's foster care system already have been failed by their parents. The last thing these kids need is to be failed by bureaucracy, too, and yet that's exactly what appears to be happening because of a needlessly rigid funding formula set up by the Florida Legislature. Child welfare agencies …

    The Legislature may have had good intentions when it came up with the funding plan, but it’s obvious that there is some unfairness built into it. The funding may be complicated, but the goal is simple: Making sure every child in need gets the help he or she needs.