Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Driver charged in crash that killed bicyclist in St. Petersburg bike lane

EDITOR'S NOTE: A correction notice has been appended to this story.

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested a St. Petersburg man on multiple criminal charges in connection with a crash that killed a bicyclist Saturday afternoon as she pedaled in a bike lane.

Matthew E. Cook, 27, was arrested Tuesday on charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and DUI involving serious injury.

Cook was driving with a cocktail of drugs in his system — including cocaine, methadone, oxycodone, marijuana and benzodiazepines — when he struck Kris Ann Jones, 40, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash occurred while Cook had his 3-year-old daughter in the car with him, police said. The girl, who was not properly strapped into her car seat, suffered burns, scrapes and bruises, police said.

Because of this, police also added a charge of child abuse.

In addition, police say Cook was going 80 mph in a 40-mph zone and may have been racing another car when he turned into the bike lane in which Jones was riding. After hitting Jones, Cook crashed his 1995 Honda Civic into a sport utility vehicle.

"I'd say he made a number of bad choices on this particular day," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.

Cook was being held Tuesday night at the Pinellas County Jail without bail. His family could not be reached for comment. Neither could Jones' family members.

Cook was arrested Tuesday afternoon as his family escorted him from Bayfront Medical Center, where he had undergone surgery for a broken femur, police said. Officers were surprised to learn he was leaving the hospital so early, but ensured they were there to take him into custody, Puetz said.

The crash occurred about 5 p.m. Saturday as Jones was riding east in the bike lane in the 5200 block of First Avenue S.

The speeding Cook pulled behind an SUV, then tried to use the bike lane to pass it, police said. He didn't see Jones on her bike until it was too late and slammed on the brakes just before striking her, police said.

Jones was thrown onto the windshield and the roof of the Honda, police said, but was flung to the street when the car skidded into the back of the other, parked SUV, pushing it into a tree.

While talking to officers, Cook admitted to "some drug use," Puetz said. Cook denied he was racing, but police believe he was.

"We've got enough information to believe both these cars were traveling on First Avenue S at a high rate of speed, which suggests racing," Puetz said. "He (Cook) denies it, but we have witnesses who have refuted that."

Police haven't located the other vehicle, which they described as a small, faded-white car that was possibly foreign-made. Puetz said investigators need to do more work before deciding whether the other driver could be charged.

Cook has a history of arrests and driving offenses. He pleaded no contest in 2010 to two misdemeanor counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief, according to court records.

His driver's license was suspended in 2007 after he pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge. His license was later reinstated.

He also has been cited for avoiding a traffic control device, improper backing and seat belt violations, records show.

Times news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: Matthew E. Cook pleaded no contest in 2010 to two misdemeanor counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. Earlier versions of this article appearing in print and online listed incorrect charges.

To help

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Officer Michael Jockers at (727) 893-4813. Anonymous tipsters can call (727) 892-5000 or text police at (727) 420-8911.

Driver charged in crash that killed bicyclist in St. Petersburg bike lane 04/17/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 11, 2012 2:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 10 National Monuments the Interior Department Wants to Shrink or Modify


    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that President Donald Trump make changes to 10 national monuments, including Bears Ears in southern Utah, according to a memo addressed to the White House.

  2. At UN, Trump threatens 'total destruction' of North Korea (w/video)


    UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump, in a combative debut speech to the U.N. General Assembly, threatened the "total destruction'" of North Korea if it does not abandon its drive toward nuclear weapons.

    United States President Donald Trump prepares to speak during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Associated Press]
  3. Grocery chain Aldi hiring for 500 positions across Florida


    Aldi, the German grocery store chain, is hiring for 500 positions across Florida, including at its locations in Tampa Bay. The company will hold a "one-day hiring spree" Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at all Aldi stores in the state, a Tuesday release said.

    Aldi, a German grocery store chain, is hiring for 500 positions across the state. | [Times file photo]
  4. Hurricane Maria, with 160 mph winds, could devastate Puerto Rico by Wednesday morning


    ROSEAU, Dominica — Hurricane Maria smashed into Dominica with 160 mph winds, ripping the roof off even the prime minister's residence and causing what he called "mind-boggling" devastation …

    This Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, GOES East satellite image provided by NASA taken at 20:30 UTC, shows the eye of Hurricane Maria as it nears Dominica. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday evening that Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter planes found that Maria had strengthened into a storm with 160 mph (260 kph) winds. [NASA via AP]
  5. A botched surgery left a barber with erectile dysfunction. Decades later, he took revenge.

    The old man booked his appointment under an alias.

    In this July 27, 2017 file photo, Stanwood Fred Elkus, accused of shooting and killing his doctor at the doctor's office in Newport Beach in 2013, is wheeled into Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif.