CLEARWATER — A woman driving drunk with two kids in the car when she hit and killed a motorcyclist Saturday had been involved in a road rage fight moments before, deputies said.
Kelley Nicole Zielinski, 29, of Safety Harbor, was driving in the area of West Bay Drive and Indian Rocks Road about 5 p.m., according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Another driver, later identified as Stacey Lynne Maurer, had been following Zielinski too closely, Zielinski told deputies.
Zielinski stopped at a red light and got out of her 2013 Hyundai sedan to confront Maurer, 52, of Clearwater. Maurer got out of her Toyota RAV4, ran toward Zielinski and started hitting her, deputies said. A passenger in Zielinski's car recorded the fight and showed it to a deputy. The deputy wrote in a report that Maurer was the primary aggressor.
Zielinski took Fort Harrison Avenue into Clearwater, according to Clearwater police. She started turning left onto Belleview Boulevard, directly into the path of a Harley Davidson driven by Jeffrey Pearl, 56, of Largo. Pearl was thrown from the motorcycle and later pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said.
Meantime, Maurer had continued following Zielinski, police said. After the crash, she got out of her car, walked up to Zielinski and slapped her in the face. Firefighter-paramedics on the scene witnessed the confrontation, according to police.
A Clearwater police officer arrested Maurer on a battery charge, noting that she had slurred speech and watery eyes, and that her breath smelled like alcohol. Maurer refused to participate in field sobriety tests or give a breath sample but admitted to drinking two rum runners and two beers earlier in the day. An officer also noted she had a cup in the car that smelled of alcohol. Maurer said it was a rum runner.
When reached by phone Monday, Maurer said the account from police was not accurate but declined to comment further on the advice of her lawyer. Zielinski could not immediately be reached for comment.
Police arrested Maurer on charges of battery and driving under the influence. As officers were taking her into custody, according to a report, she said, "I can't believe y'all are arresting me for hitting that b---- in the face after she killed that man on the motorcycle."
Officers arrested Zielinski on a DUI manslaughter charge and two child neglect charges because she had children in the car. One of the children was hers and was picked up by a grandparent at the scene. The other child belonged to Zielinski's passenger.
Both Zielinski and Maurer were booked into the Pinellas County jail Saturday night. They were released Sunday after meeting bail, $20,000 for Zielinski and $1,500 for Maurer.
Contact Kathryn Varn at email@example.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.