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Semitrailer crushes memorial to bicyclist from Thonotosassa

THONOTOSASSA — It was near 1:30 a.m. Tuesday when Sabriena Weeks lit a candle on a highway to mark the sacred site of her husband's death. She put the candle on a striped, triangular patch of asphalt, a buffer for Interstate 75 traffic merging onto Fowler Avenue.

This was where a truck had hit his bicycle nine hours earlier, investigators told her. She wanted to see for herself, to know how it happened.

She stood with a friend in the painted zone, cars whizzing by. Then they walked to the side of the road to check for pieces of the bike.

That's when a semitrailer flew past them, she said. It crossed the painted triangle and crushed her candle.

A splotch of black wax now marks the road where Anthony G. Weeks was killed at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

"Words couldn't even describe how I felt when I saw that," Sabriena Weeks, 29, said.

Authorities say that on Monday a pickup exiting northbound Interstate 75 onto westbound Fowler apparently drove through the safety zone and collided with the front of Weeks' bike.

There's a bike lane on the north side of the highway that is briefly interrupted by traffic coming off the interstate. The bike lane continues on the east side of the buffer zone.

The pickup driver, Michael Larmeu, 49, of Apollo Beach, hasn't been charged and the investigation is still open, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

It's a traffic violation for a vehicle to go over the striped triangle, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Kraus. But bicycles must also follow the law, he said. Weeks was riding against traffic.

Investigators are working to determine who, if anyone, was at fault and whether charges are warranted, Kraus said.

Larmeu has been cited twice for speeding, Florida records show. In both cases, adjudication was withheld. He hasn't had a ticket in eight years, records show.

Weeks was biking home from his landscaping job near the couple's Thonotosassa duplex when he was hit, his wife said.

He has a pickup, but it's a gas guzzler, she said. The couple just gave birth to a son — their second — on Aug. 31, and Weeks was trying to save money to buy diapers and other baby items.

"He's a great father," Sabriena Weeks said, wiping away tears.

He loved taking her 11-year-old son and their 3-year-old son fishing. He was an avid bass fisherman, and he had just won some awards in Pennsylvania for catching trout.

On Sunday, he took the boys to the zoo, to a pool and then trick-or-treating. He'd stay up late to hold his baby, even though he had to get up before dawn for work.

"He called it 'daddy time,' " Sabriena Weeks said.

His 3-year-old son, Nicholas, played with a toy monster truck Tuesday morning. His father was supposed to take him to a monster truck rally.

"But daddy's in heaven with God," the little boy said.

Sabriena Weeks sobbed.

She misses her husband with a sharp pain. She met him about nine years ago at a mutual friend's house. The first thing she noticed was his green eyes.

All she had Tuesday was a typed initial case report from the Highway Patrol. She wants the driver to know what she lost.

"I hope he understands what he took from my family," she said.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Semitrailer crushes memorial to bicyclist from Thonotosassa 11/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 11:58pm]
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