Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Public safety

Bayshore Boulevard: Safe but not perfect

TAMPA — It's Tampa's Sunset Boulevard. Lined by mansions to the west and water to the east, Bayshore Boulevard is prime real estate — and not just for those with money.

Joggers and bicyclists hit the 4.5-mile sidewalk before dawn and stay long after sunset. It's populated by people and dolphins. And, for the most part, it's safe.

But two recent incidents show that not even the poshest places are immune to tragedy and crime. A broken balustrade and dried egg yolk provided temporary reminders last week.

On May 11, a 19-year-old Tampa man's car careened down a narrow street, over speed bumps and across Bayshore, smashing through the balustrade before sinking into Hillsborough Bay. The man — University of South Florida student Michael Agana — died five days later.

Then last week, 17-year-old cross country runner Noah Grant was injured in a drive-by egging as he jogged with five Robinson High School friends.

Before Noah left, the group's departure time (after 9 p.m.) gave his mother pause. But he was with friends, she thought, and it's Bayshore.

"It's ours," she said last week. "It's Tampa's."

Though some joggers complain of motorists, who occasionally throw bottles and insults, to many the long, uninterrupted sidewalk is an oasis in a landscape of bustling city streets.

The winding road plays host to Gasparilla parades and running clubs. It is home to charity walks and tourists who gawk at the water and mansions. Over the past year, Tampa police wrote reports about Bayshore calls about 250 times — not a high number for a busy stretch of road.

Many police cases were car-related: accidents, DUIs and people driving without a license. Officers also investigated reports of lost property, stolen cars and burglaries.

Last Tuesday, joggers in the Four Green Fields running club chatted about the recent headlines. But to bar manager Randy Burns' knowledge, no one in the club is scared to go on Bayshore now.

"It's still safe," he said. "And it's one of the nicest attractions Tampa has to offer."

Burns has bicycled and roller-bladed Bayshore for more than 10 years. In that time, the road has seen several tragedies.

In 2010, a particularly heinous crime hit Bayshore near Howard Avenue: A man named Luis Munuzuri Harris posed as a cop and pulled a woman over. Then he raped her.

Police warned residents to watch out for fake police. Badges can be fake, they said.

Official-looking lights can be purchased.

Seven years earlier, traffic was Bayshore's main problem.

In June 2003, a driver mowed down bicyclist Ian Bellis as he waited to cross an intersection on Bayshore.

Bellis wasn't even on the street when he was hit — a sobering fact that meant any runner, walker or skater could be a victim.

Just two months later, the teenage son of a prominent lawyer was involved in a fatal car crash.

Charles Gable Yerrid, then 16, was speeding along Bayshore Boulevard when his Cadillac Escalade struck a car driven by a 33-year-old nurse from Lutz. The nurse died.

Then in 2004, a motorcyclist struck a jogger at about 80 mph — double the speed limit.

That year, then-Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio created a safety task force to improve pedestrian and bike safety along the road.

A sidewalk was added to the boulevard's southbound side and a traffic signal at Howard. The city also added bike lanes.

Last week, people continued to flock to Bayshore. Though Friday's downpours stopped some, joggers were back by the afternoon.

Police say they continue to investigate the death of Michael Agana and are waiting for state analysts to return some tests. It could be another six weeks.

Meanwhile, three high school students face juvenile felony battery charges in the egging incident.

As awful as that was, said Burns, the news coverage of the egging may make Bayshore safer for others.

"Over the last 10 years, I've seen more eggshells out on Bayshore than I'd like to say," he said. "Maybe this will deter people."

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

Comments
Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

TAMPA — A malfunctioning air conditioning unit sparked the fire that damaged several homes at the Brookshire Townhomes on Monday, authorities said.Investigators concluded the fire started on the back patio of unit B103 when the power supply of a cond...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Plant City boy, 12, dies in Mulberry crash as car turns into path of semi

MULBERRY — A 12-year-old Plant City boy died Tuesday when the car he was riding in turned into the path of a semitrailer on State Road 60, authorities said. Miguel Resendiz was riding in an eastbound BMW 328xi when its driver, 29-year-old Maricela Re...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

TAMPA — A 24-year-old aide at Buchanan Middle School was arrested Monday and charged with using Instagram to ask for sex and nude photos from female students at the school, deputies said.Between Sept. 1 and the time of his arrest, Quinton J. Bradford...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

TAMPA — Police were searching Tuesday for a missing 15-year-old Plant City girl who disappeared from a Tampa girls school. Zoe Warren was last seen about 8 a.m. Monday at the PACE Center for Girls, 1933 E. Hillsborough Ave., where she attends school,...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Space heater likely cause of early-morning home fire in Valrico

Space heater likely cause of early-morning home fire in Valrico

VALRICO — A space heater is believed to be the cause of a home fire in Valrico on Tuesday morning.It took firefighters about 20 minutes to control the fire in a mobile home on Pierce Christie Drive, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.The ca...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Tampa forum focuses on reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system

TAMPA — Changing the way Florida treats juvenile offenders was the focus of Monday night’s public forum on criminal justice reform."We send more children to adult prison than any other state," said Raymer Maguire IV, manager of the ACLU’s Florida Cam...
Published: 12/12/17
Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

TAMPA — When her apartment complex caught fire Monday afternoon, Peaches McIntyre grabbed her four children and baby stroller and ran outside.Hours later, she looked at the smoldering building with her 5-year-old autistic son, Choice Underwood, huggi...
Published: 12/11/17
Mother, sons lose everything in fire -- except her daughter’s urn

Mother, sons lose everything in fire -- except her daughter’s urn

ST. PETERSBURG — The day after a fire claimed most of Jahmeshia Jackson’s possessions, the 27-year-old mother returned to the house she and her sons had escaped, trying to salvage what she could. She hoped her washer and dryer still worked. But most ...
Published: 12/11/17
Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

CLEARWATER — A 38-year-old tree trimmer is in critical condition after he was shocked by a power line Monday, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.Ernest Harlen, of Largo, was on a ladder cutting trees with a pole saw when he was shocked just before...
Published: 12/11/17
Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

TAMPA — Weeks after burying his son Anthony Naiboa, one of four people gunned down over the span of 51 days in Seminole Heights, Casimar Naiboa has a new and unwanted ritual.He drives past a makeshift memorial his family made for his son, set up wher...
Published: 12/11/17