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Pasco golf cart death 'freak thing,' victim's dad says

Published Jun. 19, 2012

LAND O'LAKES — Blood still smears the neighbor's front door where Nathaniel Williams pounded for help Saturday night.

Call 911, the occupants heard Williams scream. His girlfriend, Erika Robinson, who had just been thrown from a golf cart, lay unconscious on the pavement despite his effort to revive her.

Williams, 28, and Robinson, 27, his on-and-off-again girlfriend, had been riding around Lake Padgett Estates in the golf cart. Williams drove, even though his license is revoked. He headed south on Sheffield Road and, just before 10 p.m., tried to turn left into the driveway for a neighborhood park, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. As he turned, Robinson was thrown from the vehicle and landed on the road. Her father, Ted Robinson, said his daughter suffered massive head trauma.

She was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, but died early Sunday.

"She was a beautiful girl," said her father, who held her hand in the hospital as she died.

Ted Robinson said his daughter, a graduate of Land O'Lakes High School, worked at Red Lobster for years but recently has been unemployed. He said she was a loving, compassionate person who was a great mother. He said he misses his daughter and he believes her tumble from the golf cart was a "freak thing."

"We think it was a terrible accident," he said.

Robinson said Williams and his daughter were high school sweethearts who have a 5-year-old son together. Erika Robinson and her son, Graham Nathaniel Robinson, lived with her parents in Land O'Lakes.

Ted Robinson said his grandson is doing okay. "He doesn't understand," he said.

Erika and Graham left Saturday afternoon to visit Williams. Her father said he believed Graham was being watched by some of Williams' relatives when the two decided to ride around on the golf cart, which was not owned by Williams.

According to FHP, any person driving a golf cart on a public road must have a valid Florida driver's license.

Williams has a lengthy record of driving infractions, as well as a substantial criminal record, which included a two-year prison sentence for felony battery. Williams' license was revoked in 2008 and then again in May, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

He was released from the Pasco County jail in February after being sentenced to six months for failing to appear in court for habitually driving with a suspended or revoked license and for not having a motor vehicle registration, according to court records. Williams could not be reached Monday.

The investigation into Saturday's incident is ongoing, said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, patrol spokesman. Traffic fatalities often take months to investigate because of toxicology tests. FHP declined to say whether alcohol played a role in the accident.

Golf cart accident statistics were not available from the Highway Patrol, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said 13,838 people went to the emergency room for treatment of injuries related to golf carts in 2010, the latest year figures were available.

In February, an 18-year-old woman was charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving while ability impaired by alcohol and drugs in connection with the death of the passenger in a golf cart she was driving near Buffalo, N.Y.

The woman was driving an unlighted golf cart just after midnight when a car crested a hill and rear-ended the cart. The golf cart driver and her 18-year-old male passenger, were thrown into the road.

A Bonita Springs man was charged with vehicular homicide in the April 2011 death of his wife. According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Kenneth Shawn McCafferty was speeding and driving drunk when his wife fell from their golf cart.

In 2008, a 14-year-old South Carolina girl died of a head injury a week after falling out of a golf cart she and a friend decided to drive to church.

Information from the Buffalo (N.Y.) News, the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail and WZVN-HD was used in this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6229.

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