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Tampa police identify e-scooter rider struck by semi-trailer truck

Police have identified the electric scooter rider who was struck by a semi-trailer truck on 20th Street in Tampa on Thursday. John Michael Edgerton, 33, remained in critical condition Friday, police said. [CHRISTOPHER O’DONNELL   l   Times]
Police have identified the electric scooter rider who was struck by a semi-trailer truck on 20th Street in Tampa on Thursday. John Michael Edgerton, 33, remained in critical condition Friday, police said. [CHRISTOPHER O’DONNELL l Times]
Published Jun. 21, 2019

TAMPA — Moneik Beal lay in bed Thursday night thinking about the man on the electric scooter.

Hours earlier, Beal was sitting at a traffic light on south 20th Street when she saw the man pull out of a side street without stopping. At the same moment, a semi-trailer truck that had just turned out of the Marathon petroleum terminal slammed into the man, throwing him into the air.

"He just zoomed right on out," Beal, 28, recalled of the scooter rider. "The timing was as if he didn't see the truck, saw it and intentionally wanted to be hit, or the scooter malfunctioned."

So Beal was puzzled by news stories citing the Tampa Police account of what happened. According to them, 33-year-old John Michael Edgerton was riding the scooter north on 20th near Stuart Street about 4:45 p.m. when he suddenly veered into the path of a truck going in the same direction.

Beal told a detective Friday that Edgerton in fact had pulled out of Stuart Street as if he was trying to cross 20th from east to west.

Detectives were still investigating the crash Friday, police spokesman Steve Hegarty said. No charges have been filed.

Edgerton was listed in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital.

The crash was the latest trauma in the Tampa man's troubled history.

He was involuntarily committed under the Baker Act in February 2013 after walking in front of a delivery truck on Hillsborough Avenue, according to an incident report. Edgerton had been reported missing that day by the staff of a mental health facility where he was being treated, the report says.

In September 2015, in an incident widely reported by local news media, Edgerton crashed a stolen car into a pole near Nebraska and 139th avenues, a police report says. He then hopped into a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue pickup truck and took off down Interstate 275 during rush hour.

Near Ashley Drive, Edgerton crashed the truck into the concrete wall, sideswiped a van and then slammed into the back of a slow moving car. He was caught after a brief foot chase and a struggle with officers. He told investigators he wanted to use the stolen car and the pickup truck to die by suicide.

He was charged with 10 counts, including grand theft auto, leaving the scene of a crash and battery on a law enforcement officer. Court records show he spent time in a state mental health treatment hospital and was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

After a stint at a mental health treatment facility in Holiday, a judge allowed him to be released to live with his parents in Tampa.

When the semi trailer truck hit Edgerton on Thursday, Beal was among the bystanders who rushed into action while other motorists edged by him as he lay on the ground, gasping for air.

A marketing director who was heading home to Ruskin, Beal grabbed a towel from her sport utility vehicle and directed traffic while two other women and a man began cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"It took me back because you see the humanity of people who put their own lives in jeopardy," she said. "There was blood all over them. It was heroic."

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Beal said the truck driver, identified as John Horvath, 67, appeared in shock. She said it was clear to her that he'd done nothing wrong, that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Beal wondered why Edgerton would try to cross 20th when there's a paved multi-use recreational trail that runs along the east side of the street. And even if he had been heading north, why wouldn't he use the paved trail, rather than ride in the busy three-lane road?

Legally, he was allowed to be there. Two days before the crash, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill legally allowing electric scooters to ride on city streets.

Tampa's transportation director Jean Duncan said the department has asked its legal department to review the law on what restrictions could be made on where scooters can be ridden. Scooters could be potentially be restricted to low-speed streets or streets with bike lanes, she said, though the streets scooters can travel on still need to be connected.

"There are always many layers with any accident — never one thing that's to blame, usually a combination of things," Duncan said.

"Obviously we're very saddened by the accident," she said. "Any time any person gets hurt, we feel that pain because we're in the business of keeping people safe."

Beal's two year-old son and five-year-old brother were with her and saw the crash and the aftermath. She said her son kept asking if the man had died.

"I said he's going to go to the hospital and they're going to put a Band-Aid on him and he's going to be better," she said.

The incident traumatized the family, but Beal hopes her the children remember how strangers came together to help a man they didn't know.

"I told them there are good people out there," she said. "We just have to care for one another."

Times staff writer Amanda Zhou and senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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