LAND O'LAKES — David Lowe was about 30 miles away from home when he was released from the Pasco County Jail Wednesday night. Like many newly freed inmates who can't find a ride or afford a cab, Lowe started walking. He headed south on U.S. 41 at about 9:30 p.m. Three miles and two hours later, Lowe, 50, tried to cross to the east side of the busy highway just north of Causeway Boulevard. There was no crosswalk.
Lowe was hit by a 2002 Dodge Caravan driven by Alberto X. Bartolomei, 40, of Wesley Chapel. The Florida Highway Patrol said Lowe "walked directly into the path" of the minivan. Lowe, of Holiday, died at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing and any possible charges or citations are pending the outcome of the case, FHP said. Alcohol or drug use is not suspected for Bartolomei's part in the crash, a report states, although he has been twice convicted of DUI in previous years. For the most recent conviction, his license was revoked for five years. It was reinstated in 2010, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Lowe had been arrested Tuesday, accused of trespassing at a Hess Express on U.S. 19 near his house in Holiday. The store manager told deputies Lowe and another man were harassing customers and digging through the Dumpster. Lowe had been ordered by a deputy to leave the same place in October, a report states. So Lowe and his friend, Julian Ancy, 53, were arrested, charged with trespassing and taken to jail. Lowe was released Wednesday on time served, which means there would be no court case on the charge. Ancy is still in custody.
Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said Lowe would not have been released if he had been deemed unable to care for himself.
"If there is an obvious physical or mental issue with an inmate, we will make arrangements to try to get them transferred to a shelter or some other appropriate location away from the facility," Doll said.
He said all others have to make their own transportation arrangements when they leave the jail. If no one can pick them up, those with money will call a taxi. The others walk. There is often pedestrian traffic from the jail along U.S. 41. But Doll said he wasn't aware of any problem. The released inmates aren't loitering.
"They want to get away from there as quickly as possible," Doll said.
Times reporter Danny Valentine contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.