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Bicyclist in Zephyrhills killed by hit-and-run driver

ZEPHYRHILLS — Robert Burger III was dealt a life of challenges.

Born 12 weeks premature, the smaller of twins, his heart quit beating after only a week and stayed silent for five minutes.

The doctors warned his parents about irreversible neurological damage. His mother and father steeled themselves for the future.

His development quickly lagged behind twin sister Robin, and he was prone to wild tantrums. After he was enrolled in kindergarten, teachers said he likely would never get beyond a third-grade education.

At age 7, Burger was diagnosed with gout, a kind of arthritis that harms joints and tendons and is common in much older people. Two weeks ago, he suffered a stroke.

He battled through it all — until Friday.

Burger, 23, who lived in Dade City, was riding his bike on Fort King Road in Zephyrhills when he lost control and fell into the road. A car came from behind him and struck him near Fairview Heights Road about 10:20 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The driver never stopped, and Burger died of his injuries.

"He had to fight his whole entire life," said his mother, Bonnie Burger.

"For somebody else to do this, even if it was an accident," she said, pausing. "They should have just stopped and called 911."

Bonnie Burger and the Florida Highway Patrol urged anybody with information about the crash to come forward. People can contact FHP Cpl. Erik Bromiley at (813) 631-4020.

Robert Burger, who went by Bubba, graduated from Pasco High School in 2006, getting the equivalent of a ninth-grade education. In high school, he was a four-year member of the ROTC.

It helped him learn how to take responsibility for his own actions, to keep his uniform maintained and his shoes scuff-free, Bonnie Burger said.

He wanted to go into the military, but he knew he would never be able to do so with his gout.

His mother said that he could be a handful and stubborn, but that he was kind and loving and generous.

"He put us through our paces," she said, "but we loved him just the same."

Bicyclist in Zephyrhills killed by hit-and-run driver 01/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 14, 2012 8:18pm]
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