TAMPA — No criminal charges will be filed in the latest fatal traffic crash to occur on Bayshore Boulevard, which killed a bicyclist and the motorcyclist who plowed into him.
Although two other motorcyclists were nearby when the April 4 crash occurred, there is no evidence that they were racing or that they otherwise contributed to the collision, the office of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren concluded.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Warren’s office detailed the investigation’s findings. Among them:
Justin Winterhalter, 31, was riding a motorcycle at close to 100 mph shortly before he crashed into Hal Flowers, 50, a Tampa attorney who was riding a bicycle west across Bayshore near Rome Avenue. Both men died in the collision.
Winterhalter was riding from St. Petersburg with two other motorcyclists. The names of the other two have not been released. The trio crossed into Tampa via the Gandy Bridge. While on the bridge, Winterhalter sped away from the other two and met them on the east side. The trio then continued east along Gandy Boulevard before turning north onto Bayshore.
As they rode north on Bayshore, the three were sometimes moving at the 35 mph speed limit and other times were speeding, according to Warren’s office. Winterhalter was the quickest, going as fast as 64 mph, while the other two were seen going 55 mph and 48 mph, respectively. But there was no evidence that the three were racing, weaving in and out of traffic or otherwise violating traffic laws, according to Warren’s office.
At Howard Avenue, the three stopped for a red light. When it turned green, Winterhalter sped away, doing a “wheelie,” according to the statement. He reached a top speed of 100 mph before hitting Flowers.
The other two motorcyclists were about a quarter-mile behind when the crash occurred. They did not arrive at the scene until 25 seconds after the collision.
Flowers, an attorney and father of four, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Winterhalter, an engineer who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, died at the scene.
Had Winterhalter survived, he would have faced a charge of vehicular homicide.
“Based on this evidence, the other two motorcyclists were not involved in and neither caused nor contributed to the fatal crash,” the state attorney’s statement said. “Accordingly, there is no legal basis to charge either with a crime for the crash that Winterhalter caused."
“Justin Winterhalter is solely responsible for Mr. Flowers’ tragic death. Because he also perished in the crash, he cannot be prosecuted, but that does not make his conduct any less egregious.”
Bayshore is a popular and scenic stretch of road that runs along Hillsborough Bay in South Tampa. Million-dollar mansions and high-rise condominiums line one side of a bustling roadway that serves as a convenient thoroughfare between downtown and South Tampa. On the other side is a wide 4.5-mile sidewalk and balustrade that hug the waterfront.
The crash was the third fatal collision to occur along the iconic Tampa boulevard in the last two years.
In May 2018, Jessica Raubenolt, 24, and her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia, were killed by a pair of racing teenage drivers, according to police. Vehicular homicide charges remain pending in state court against Cameron Herrin and John Barrineau.
On Jan. 9, George Gage, 70, a retired finance executive, was killed when a pool supply company pickup truck veered off the road and slammed into him on the sidewalk. The driver, Benjamin Douglas Ehas, 32, was drunk and speeding before he ran off the road, according to prosecutors. He is charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
The string of crashes has raised concerns about safety along Bayshore and spurred city officials to install flashing signs at crosswalks, narrow traffic lanes and lower the speed limit from 40 to 35 mph.