Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Retrieving mail was a daily ritual for Hernando man killed in weekend crash

Burl Batten, 62, was struck and killed by a car Saturday.

Burl Batten, 62, was struck and killed by a car Saturday.

BROOKSVILLE — Burl Batten insisted on making the potentially perilous trek across Sunshine Grove Road to get his mail each day.

His wife, Janet, was injured on the job years ago, and her mobility has worsened. Mr. Batten, 62, was legally blind, but it was difficult for a casual observer to tell, his wife said.

"He didn't want me crossing that road because I go too slow," she said. "He worked like a young man and got around like a young man."

On Saturday night, Mr. Batten made the trip one last time. About 9:45, he walked through the end of his long driveway and across the dark, straight stretch of road west of Brooksville. To get to his mailbox, Batten crossed two lanes and a center turn lane. On the way back, he was struck by a southbound Chevy Lumina driven by Peter Petrosky of Spring Hill.

Petrosky, 50, swerved to avoid a collision but hit Mr. Batten, who was thrown onto the west shoulder and died at the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Troopers were still investigating Monday and trying to determine if speed was a factor, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins. The speed limit is 50 miles per hour.

Petrosky could not be reached for comment.

Janet Batten said she doesn't think her husband's eyesight was a factor. The couple's property sits just north of the stretch of Sunshine Grove that was widened recently from two lanes to four.

Mr. Batten was killed a couple of hundred feet south of a makeshift roadside memorial marking the spot where 20-year-old Kevin Giddens of Brooksville was hit and killed by a pickup while walking in the road in October. Mr. Batten met Giddens' brother one day and offered their fence as a place to hang a memorial, Janet said.

"They opened up that road and it became a racetrack out here," she said.

A native of Brooksville, Batten had a hereditary condition that limited his eyesight, worsened as he aged and was exacerbated by cataracts, his wife said. He could read the newspaper with strong eyeglasses and could see well enough to work full time sorting donations at the Goodwill store in Spring Hill.

The couple met in the late 1970s when they were working as police dispatchers in Pasco County and moved to Largo in the early 1980s when Janet got a job as a Treasure Island police officer. Mr. Batten worked as a clerk for several years at the Albertsons store on Walsingham Road.

The Battens moved to Hernando County in 2001, picking a nearly 5-acre parcel big enough to keep two horses. Mr. Batten tried to get the mailbox moved to the west side of the road, but the Postal Service said it couldn't be done, Janet said.

Mr. Batten started at Goodwill's Brooksville store in 2003 and moved to the Spring Hill store six years later. He was a courteous, hard-working employee whose one-liners, known as "Burlisms," made the day go by quicker, said store manager Barbara De Vito.

"He always had the right answer in someone's time of need," De Vito said. "No matter what it was, he could soothe you."

On Monday, employees placed a framed photo of Mr. Batten and some flowers on an easel just inside the store's front door.

Retrieving mail was a daily ritual for Hernando man killed in weekend crash 02/17/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 17, 2014 9:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick and Tom podcast: Where does Winston rank among top QBs?

    Blogs

    Where does Bucs QB Jameis Winston rank among current NFL QBs this year? The result might shock you. Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down a new poll by Sports Illustrated in their latest podcast.

    Where does Jameis Winston rank among the NFL's top quarterbacks?
  2. Early morning fire breaks out at Clearwater Beach motel

    Fire

    Clearwater Fire and Rescue is at the scene of an early morning fire that broke out at a motel on Clearwater Beach.

  3. Florida education news: Free speech, Schools of Hope, student voices and more

    Blogs

    FREE SPEECH: The University of Florida reluctantly hosts white nationalist activist Richard Spencer for a rally officials are encouraging students to ignore. Campus president Kent Fuchs, who tried to prevent the activity from taking place, Troopers prepare for Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for Alachua County ahead of the event.

  4. How old is too old to go trick-or-treating on Halloween?

    Human Interest

    Brandi Eatman guesses the boy was at least 15 years old.

     Costume accessories at House of Make Believe at 1055 N Hercules Ave. in Clearwater. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  5. Report: West Pasco channel dredges could cost up to $13.5 million

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The cost of dredging a dozen coastal canals serving seven west Pasco communities could reach nearly $13.5 million, according to a consultant's report.

    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
 A consultant recommends that Pasco County consider a dozen canal dredging projects in west Pasco's coastal communities at a cost that could reach nearly $13.5 million. [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times 2011]