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2nd car caused bicyclist's death, witness says

THONOTOSASSA — When a bicyclist died Nov. 1 on Fowler Avenue, investigators said a pickup truck entered a triangular safety zone and collided with the bike.

However, a witness interviewed by the Florida Highway Patrol — and later by the St. Petersburg Times — describes a more complicated scenario, one in which the truck was forced to veer off course by a car that abruptly changed lanes.

Anthony Weeks died in the crash. Pickup driver Michael Larmeu was not charged. The Highway Patrol continues to investigate.

The witness, Anson Anglin, 33, said he was driving behind Larmeu as they both exited northbound Interstate 75. The cloverleaf intersection routes drivers through a merge lane onto westbound Fowler Avenue. A triangular safety zone, called a gore, buffers the merge lane from existing Fowler traffic.

As Larmeu approached the Fowler merger, a car crossed lanes and cut him off to make a hard right onto Morris Bridge Road, Anglin said. Larmeu veered left to avoid the car in front of him, the witness said.

Larmeu avoided the car but collided with bicyclist Weeks in the safety zone. Weeks, riding against traffic, was on his way home from a landscaping job.

The Highway Patrol confirmed that Anglin was at the scene and had given a statement. The agency released no further detail. The investigation could take 30 to 90 days, a spokesman said.

After seeing the crash, Anglin immediately left his truck to check on the bicyclist, he said. He found a faint pulse and pressed on Weeks' chest, he said.

When Larmeu got out of his truck, he was visibly distraught, Anglin said.

"It truly was an accident, and this guy has to live with it the rest of his life," said Anglin, who lives in Plant City.

After encountering the dying bicyclist, Anglin felt moved to help his family. He gathered some of his own sons' clothes and toys and brought them to Weeks' workplace. Weeks left an 11-year-old stepson, a 3-year-old son and a 9-week-old baby boy.

Anglin told Weeks' boss what he had seen of the crash.

The boss then shared the story with Weeks' widow, Sabriena.

She has a hard time visualizing his account, she said. Even if the car contributed to the chain of events, she said, that doesn't change Larmeu's involvement.

"The car's driver didn't hit Tony, the truck did," she said.

A reporter's attempts to talk to Larmeu were not successful.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

2nd car caused bicyclist's death, witness says 11/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 11, 2010 9:03pm]
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