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Motorcyclist's death latest in a trend

PINELLAS PARK — An Indian Rocks Beach couple who had been riding motorcycles for 50 years took their last ride together Saturday.

The accident occurred about 4:15 p.m. at Park Boulevard and 52nd Street. It took the life of Janet Mauriello, 67.

Her death is the latest in a string of motorcycle accidents in the Tampa Bay area and part of a trend that is increasing statewide.

In just the past few weeks:

• Motorcyclist James D. Dean, 44, died Saturday after a drunken driver ran a red light and hit him at 1:35 a.m. in Tampa. Dean was not wearing a helmet.

• An as yet unidentified motorcyclist died Friday night after losing control of his Harley-Davidson on the Bayside Bridge.

• Vincent A. Ciabattoni, 26, of Clearwater died March 15 on the Memorial Causeway Bridge after losing control of his 2005 Kawasaki. He wasn't wearing a helmet.

• Kevin Lee Kinchen, 22, was seriously injured March 16, after losing control of his motorcycle in Plant City.

In 2002, 274 people died in motorcycle crashes. In 2006, 521 people died, according to the most recent statistics from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The number of registered motorcycles in the state tripled from 2000 to 2006.

In Saturday's accident, Robert Mauriello, 70, was driving east in the median lane of Park Boulevard on a 2006 Harely-Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle with his wife in the seat behind him.

He was driving behind a 2001 Honda Prelude driven by David Monroe, 33, of St. Petersburg. Police say Monroe stopped for an ambulance running with emergency lights on going through the intersection. Mauriello hit his brakes. The motorcycle went on its right side and skidded into the back of the Honda, throwing Mrs. Mauriello into the center lane. She was hit by a 1997 Dodge Dakota driven by James Harrison, 36, of Lithia.

Mrs. Mauriello was pronounced dead at Northside Hospital. She suffered severe injuries to her back, neck, torso and extremities, police said.

Robert Mauriello was treated for minor cuts. Both Robert and Janet Mauriello were wearing helmets.

None of the drivers showed signs of impairment, police said, but the investigation was ongoing, police said.

Motorcyclist's death latest in a trend 03/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 3, 2008 11:33am]
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