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No charges filed in fatal collision of scooter, wheelchair in St. Petersburg

Thomas L. Wiemken, 59, was killed when his scooter and a motorized wheelchair collided Nov. 30 in St. Petersburg.

From video by Gilbert Rainault

Thomas L. Wiemken, 59, was killed when his scooter and a motorized wheelchair collided Nov. 30 in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG — No charges will be filed in the motorized wheelchair-scooter crash that took the life of a 59-year-old St. Petersburg man.

Thomas L. Wiemken was thrown from his scooter after it collided with the motorized wheelchair about 10 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Fourth Street N and 14th Avenue. He died at Bayfront Medical Center.

Investigators determined that Wiemken, who was not wearing a helmet, had plenty of time to see and avoid the wheelchair crossing the road in front of him, said St. Petersburg police traffic commander Bill Korinek.

Wiemken was southbound on Fourth Street as Robert W. Kurczaba, 56, was crossing the road from the east.

Kurczaba "made it across two lanes of traffic and a left turn lane," he said. "We're showing the motor scooter driver was primarily at fault."

A key question in the case remains unanswered: Was the man on the motorized wheelchair driving a vehicle? Or was he a pedestrian?

Police turned to state statutes for the answer. They found statutes pertaining to bikes, wheelchairs and personal-mobility devices — more commonly known as Segways — but didn't find what they were looking for.

"The statutes don't really talk about these electric wheelchairs," Korinek said.

Since investigators found that Kurczaba was not at fault, they never determined whether he was a motorist or a pedestrian.

Police also were also waiting on alcohol tests from the hospital before pursuing charges.

After issuing a subpoena for the record, they discovered that the hospital didn't perform any alcohol or drug tests.

No charges filed in fatal collision of scooter, wheelchair in St. Petersburg 03/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:34pm]
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