Saturday, November 18, 2017
Public safety

Bicyclists rally in Tampa for roadway safety

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — Bicyclist Michael Duriel Lee was on his way to work last August when he was struck by a car on U.S. 92 at the Interstate 4 overpass.

Thrown over the guardrail, the 29-year-old Lee, of Tampa, fell 80 feet and died.

The driver of the car fled, police said. What he left behind may send him to prison: a chip of green metallic paint. Investigators said they used it to tie the driver to the death.

It's cases like Lee's that brought members of Tampa Bay's bicycling community together Sunday for the South West Florida Bicyclists United With Dealers Bicycle Bash at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in downtown Tampa.

A priority, group members say, is to teach bicyclists and drivers that they can safely share the road.

"We're entitled to use the roads for which we pay for," said J. Steele Olmstead, a personal injury lawyer and member of the group's board of directors. "I hate to be arrogant. But we have the legal right."

A shirt he wore at the event offered a simple message: "I don't trust cars."

The group presented awards recognizing the work of several people who it says are making the roads safer for pedestrians and bikers alike, including Hills­borough Sheriff's Office Detective Jennifer Shelton and prosecutor Barbara Coleman.

Coleman, chief of her office's traffic homicide division, specializes in cases involving the death of a bicyclist. Shelton and Coleman are working together in the prosecution of the driver who killed Lee.

A tipster helped lead police to the driver charged with fleeing the scene of the crash, Christopher Jacob Kimmel, 24, of Valrico. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Investigators "found one, and one clue only, a small chip of green paint," Olmstead said as he presented Shelton with the group's "SWFBUDdy Award."

"A lot of times I hear, 'It was the cyclist's fault,' " Olmstead said. "Detective Shelton never has that attitude. She's a person who recognizes, if you break the law, you've got to serve justice. And she was out to get justice for Mike Lee."

Kevin Craft, owner of City Bike Tampa in downtown, said the burden of safety is on both the drivers of vehicles and riders of bicycles.

"There's an inherent risk riding a bicycle, absolutely," Craft said. "I tell people, as long as you are riding defensively, as long as you're riding like the car (in front of you) is not going to get out of the way, you're generally going to be okay."

Even his mixed-breed dog, Macey, knows a few rules of the road when she runs beside Craft as he bicycles.

"As long as she heels and stops," he said, "we're ready to go."

William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected]

Comments

Possible wrong-way crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday

TAMPA — A multi-vehicle crash on the Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday may have been caused by a driver traveling in the wrong direction, Tampa police said.The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes closer to the Tampa side of the causeway, near ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., did not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Man hit, killed while crossing U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor

PALM HARBOR — A pedestrian died after he was hit by a vehicle Friday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The man, who was not identified, was crossing U.S. 19 from west to east, north of Tampa Road in Palm Harbor about 8:30 p.m., troopers ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
19 digital billboards now spread word of reward in Seminole Heights killings

19 digital billboards now spread word of reward in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — To help spread the word about reward money offered in connection with four unsolved shooting deaths in Seminole Heights, two billboard companies have donated the use of a combined 19 digital billboards.On Thursday, police announced the reward...
Published: 11/17/17

Deputies: No injuries after reported gunshot near Seminole schools

SEMINOLE — Deputies are investigating a report of a gunshot that resulted in two schools being put on lockdown Friday morning. About 8:24 a.m., the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received a call at Rita’s Italian Ice, 13147 86th Ave., in Seminole. ...
Published: 11/17/17
20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — A massive fire at a senior living community in Pennsylvania injured at least 20 people and forced dozens more, many of whom were unable to walk, into the cold night air. Firefighters were still dousing hot spots Friday, even thoug...
Published: 11/17/17
Watch: Dugan addresses Seminole Heights residents’ concerns at NAACP event

Watch: Dugan addresses Seminole Heights residents’ concerns at NAACP event

TAMPA — Members of the black community expressed appreciation on Thursday for police efforts to find the person responsible for killing four residents of southeast Seminole Heights in recent weeks.But at a meeting organized by the local chapter of th...
Published: 11/17/17
Tampa church warns: We are armed and ready to use deadly force

Tampa church warns: We are armed and ready to use deadly force

If you are an evildoer wishing to bring harm to the members of River at Tampa Bay Church, don’t expect congregants to turn the other cheek.They’ll blast you.So says a sign at the church, at 3738 River International Drive in Tampa, that delivers a sta...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Black residents question arrest spike during search for Seminole Heights killer

Black residents question arrest spike during search for Seminole Heights killer

TAMPA — Members of the black community expressed appreciation on Thursday for police efforts to find the person responsible for killing four residents of southeast Seminole Heights in recent weeks.But at a meeting organized by the local chapter of th...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Middle school student fatally struck in Tampa shortly after exiting school bus

TAMPA — A middle school student died after he was hit by a vehicle Thursday afternoon a short time after getting off of a school bus.According to Hillsborough County deputies, 11-year-old Brandon Heard Jr., a student at Mann Middle School, was struck...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17