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Garbage truck strikes, runs over and kills St. Petersburg cyclist

A friend comforts Donna Ramage, far left, after Ramage learned that her husband, Jim, 50, had been killed.

LARA CERRI | Times

A friend comforts Donna Ramage, far left, after Ramage learned that her husband, Jim, 50, had been killed.

ST. PETERSBURG — A 50-year-old bicyclist died a block from his home Friday after colliding with a city garbage truck.

After rescue workers covered his body with a yellow plastic tarp, a teenage girl walked up to the police tape to ask what happened. She thought her father might have been in the crash.

A police officer took her back to her house to find a picture of her father. Investigators compared it to the man lying in the street near a dark blue Cannondale mountain bike. It was Jim Ramage, her dad.

"We didn't let anybody look," said Lt. Joel Granata of St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue.

Investigators think the truck and Ramage were traveling north on Second Street N when the truck turned left onto 93rd Avenue, colliding with Ramage and throwing him to the ground. Police said he was run over by the dual wheels on the back of the truck.

While police investigated, the truck driver, Diana Veitch, sat in the passenger seat of a city SUV. In the driver's seat, her husband tried to console her.

"She's too distraught, torn up, to talk," said Ben Shirley, director of sanitation. He said she radioed 911 to report the accident.

In the next few weeks, a review board with representatives from the city, the Fire Department and the Police Department will meet to investigate what happened.

Veitch will continue to work but will not drive, said John Washington, manager of residential collection. The state requires a drug test of commercial drivers after they are involved in an accident, Washington said.

"She's a very good driver," said Washington, who did not know if she had been disciplined in the past. "Just a good employee, always has been."

She has worked for sanitation about 20 years and used to regularly drive the Riviera Bay route where the collision occurred. Pinellas County records show she was ticketed for careless driving in 1993, but the charge was dismissed.

Ramage's family briefly stayed at the scene before going home. As the afternoon wore on, friends parked by the house at 151 92nd Ave. NE and went in to visit.

Kim Morello, 43, a friend whose daughters babysat the Ramages' only child, a girl who is now a teenager, described Ramage as an athlete who ran, biked and played tennis. She said Ramage and his wife had worked to get a speed bump installed on their street to slow traffic.

Friend Michael Sagese, 64, said Ramage was a former air traffic controller who became a project manager for AT&T. Sagese said Ramage's house was full of friends on Friday who wanted to help his family.

"It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," Sagese said. "You can't fathom something like this."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Stephanie Garry can be reached at (727) 892-2374 or sgarry@sptimes.com.

Garbage truck strikes, runs over and kills St. Petersburg cyclist 08/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 3:51pm]
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