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3 pedestrians killed in Tampa Bay area crashes before sunrise Friday

All three pedestrian crashes occurred before 7 a.m. Friday, and left three people dead, including a 15-year-old boy.
A student from Largo High School was attempting to cross Belleair Road when he was struck by a 60-year-old woman driving a sedan. The boy, 15, died at the scene, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
A student from Largo High School was attempting to cross Belleair Road when he was struck by a 60-year-old woman driving a sedan. The boy, 15, died at the scene, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. [ Spectrum Bay News 9 ]
Published Aug. 26|Updated Aug. 26

SEMINOLE — Three pedestrians, including a 15-year-old boy, died before sunrise Friday in unrelated crashes across the Tampa Bay area, according to authorities.

A 71-year-old man from Holiday was killed while trying to cross a Pasco southbound stretch of U.S. 19 at Mile Stretch Drive around 4:15 a.m. when the driver of a Ford F-150 drove into the intersection and struck the man, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The pickup had a green traffic signal at the time, according to troopers, who did not release the names of the people involved.

Less than two hours later, an 85-year-old man crossing Starkey Road in Pinellas County was struck and killed, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said the crash occurred as Kenderrick Pearson, 27, was driving a 2015 GMC pickup truck north on Starkey Road, near Park Boulevard. Michael Gravino was crossing from west to east on Starkey Road, but was not in a designated crosswalk, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Pearson was transitioning into the center lane of Starkey when he hit Gravino with his pickup truck. Gravino died at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Neither speed nor impairment were factors in the crash, according to deputies.

Just 45 minutes later, a 15-year-old boy was struck and killed by a 60-year-old woman’s sedan traveling west on Belleair Road, east of South Haven Drive at 6:44 a.m. in Clearwater. The boy, whom the Pinellas County School District identified as Ethan Weiser, was hit while he tried to cross the dark, two-lane road.

Weiser was a student at Largo High School, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Pinellas school district officials said they would place grief counselors at Largo High and provide other types of support. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and school community,” the district said in a statement.

As the news of the accident spread, several area residents took to social media to lament the conditions that led to the fatality. Some observed that the stretch of Belleair Road is dark, narrow and heavily shaded by trees, creating potential danger for anyone walking or cycling in the area.

Others chimed in that the greater Tampa Bay area is filled with similarly unsafe roadways. They suggested local governments should improve lighting and take other safety measures on Belleair Road and others across the region.

In Pinellas County 26 people have died in crashes this year while riding a bike or walking, according to SignalFourAnalytics, a database that compiles law enforcement data from across Florida. The number includes an 11-year-old boy who the highway patrol said was killed while biking alongside U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor on Sunday.

In Pasco County, 22 people have died while biking or walking, according to the database.

Times staff writer Jeffrey S. Solocheck contributed to this report.

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