Advertisement
  1. News

Carlton: Her death got less attention than the ones on Bayshore, but it proved again it's not safe to walk here

Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick offers his condolences to everyone affected by the young mother and daughter senselessly killed on Bayshore Boulevard two weeks ago. But he also thinks traffic fatalities on 40th Street in east Tampa deserve attention.
Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick offers his condolences to everyone affected by the young mother and daughter senselessly killed on Bayshore Boulevard two weeks ago. But he also thinks traffic fatalities on 40th Street in east Tampa deserve attention.
Published Jun. 6, 2018

The tragedy on Bayshore Boulevard two weeks ago today — a mother and toddler killed by a driver police say was racing on the mansion-lined street — made big headlines.

The death of 63-year-old Leila Reid across town the same day did not.

She lived at the River Pines apartments, a modest beige retirement community off busy 40th Street. If you are unfamiliar, 40th is a north-south thoroughfare through the east side of the city "improved" with traffic circles that a whole lot of drivers don't seem to know how to negotiate.

A bus shelter frequented by locals sits across from the apartments. In between are four lanes of traffic and a median.

Just before 8 p.m. on May 23 — hours after Jessica Raubenolt and her little girl Lillia were hit on South Tampa's Bayshore — Mrs. Reid was trying to cross 40th Street when she was hit by a car and killed. The driver stayed on the scene and cooperated. No charges have been filed.

Mrs. Reid was raised in the AME church, her obituary said. She graduated from Hillsborough High and Florida A&M University and worked as an insurance analyst and an adjuster.

Like Mrs. Raubenolt, she was a mother — two daughters plus three granddaughters. Her obituary also mentioned her sense of humor, how easily she made friends and that she would be buried at Orange Hill Cemetery.

It is not safe to walk here.

The Tampa Bay area consistently ranks as one of the deadliest places in America to dare to walk or ride a bike. Last year we killed more than 100 pedestrians in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco — plus 22 more on bikes. Hillsborough leads the region. It happens so often sometimes the dead get only a mention in the local news.

Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick offers his condolences to everyone touched by the mother and daughter senselessly killed on Bayshore.

He also tells me Mrs. Reid's death on 40th was the second there in less than a year.

In September, it was Sylvia Holton, 59, trying to cross the street to those same apartments where she too lived when she was hit by a car. She later died. With this latest tragedy, Reddick had already been pushing for improved safety measures on 40th, particularly given the senior citizens, some in wheelchairs, who live there.

"It was disappointing that the people in East Tampa on 40th Street were being ignored" after this latest crash, he says, given the attention paid to what happened on Bayshore.

The tragedies on opposite sides of town share this: On both roads, everyone already knew safety was a problem. In both cases, improvements were already in the works. And in both places, planned changes happened even as people were leaving flowers and balloons there in memory.

On Bayshore, the speed limit was quickly dropped from 40 mph to 35, with other ideas in the works for a place where walkers, runners and cyclists share the road with thousands of cars daily.

On 40th, pedestrian-activated flashing beacons have been added in front of the apartments since Mrs. Reid died there. More improvements are in the works, including reducing the speed limit.

And for both sides of town, none of it is soon enough.