Motorcyclist accused of doing 150 mph said she only hit 82, wants BMW back

Gina Aidaliz Henry of Lutz said the Highway Patrol is going after her as an example to speeding motorcyclists.
Gina Henry was arrested April 22 after leading troopers on a chase from Tampa to St. Petersburg at speeds of more than 150 mph, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Gina Henry was arrested April 22 after leading troopers on a chase from Tampa to St. Petersburg at speeds of more than 150 mph, the Florida Highway Patrol said. [ Facebook ]
Published June 2, 2020

TAMPA — A Lutz woman is pleading not guilty to criminal charges that she hit speeds of more than 150 mph on Interstate 275 while fleeing on her motorcycle from state troopers.

Gina Aidaliz Henry, 38, is also fighting in another court to win back her bike after it was confiscated by the state during her April 22 arrest. She faces one misdemeanor count of reckless driving and a felony count of fleeing and eluding an officer.

“I’m devastated,” Henry told the Tampa Bay Times. “This is essentially a legal form of theft. … I don’t come from money and work hard to earn what I do have. This has put a huge dent in my financial life and now I have to start my savings from scratch again.”

Henry’s chances of reclaiming her 2012 BMW S 1000 RR hinge on the strength of evidence from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that she intended to “willfully flee or attempt to elude a law enforcement officer in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle."

If so, the state would be allowed to declare her motorcycle a “contraband article” used in the commission of a felony under the Florida Contraband and Forfeiture Act, according to Henry’s legal counsel.

Because of restrictions imposed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the first hearing in the state’s forfeiture case will be conducted by telephone at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, court records show. Arraignment in the criminal case has been delayed to June 18 at 10 a.m.

Related: Woman on motorcycle clocked at 150 mph during I-275 chase, troopers say

Neither Henry nor her St. Petersburg-based defense attorney, Lee Pearlman, have been provided with any evidence that state troopers clocked her speeding over 150 mph, she said.

“They only have evidence that the state trooper radared me at 82,” Henry said. “They are using the contraband forfeiture act against me to take my bike, as a way to make an example out of speeding motorcyclists. I understand why they are doing this, but I am sad that I became the target.”

According to court records and Henry’s arrest report, a Florida Highway Patrol helicopter was filming the chase from above and recorded Henry’s movement with speed-detecting laser and on video, placing her speed at more than 150 mph.

Henry admitted to traveling over the 60 mph speed limit the morning she got caught in a special enforcement effort coordinated by the Florida Highway Patrol along Interstate 275, between Bearss Avenue and downtown Tampa.

With coronavirus restrictions keeping people from work and school, morning traffic was light when a state helicopter working with troopers on the ground picked up Henry’s motorcycle headed south on the interstate just after 8 a.m.

Sworn affidavits filed in court say one trooper turned on the lights and sirens in his marked patrol car and pursued Henry, signaling for her to pull over. But Henry, according to the affidavits, “appeared to look back at me and proceeded to accelerate away at a high rate of speed."

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She wove in and out traffic as she fled, between cars and on the shoulder, the affidavits said.

Henry crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge into Pinellas County and was eventually stopped and arrested by troopers.

Later that day, Henry was released from Hillsborough County jail after posting $10,000 bail. But her motorcycle remains in the state’s possession.

According to BMW’s website, the retail price for newer models of her S-1000RR motorcycle, billed the “superbike of superlatives,” starts at $16,995.

Henry, an avid biker and longtime employee of Moramoto motorcycle sales and repairs, was recently promoted to finance manager for both Tampa Bay area stores, she said. She’s been caught speeding before and she’s never contested the penalties, she said.

But since the state’s forfeiture case made headlines last month, she’s received a groundswell of support from those in the motorcycle community who were also shocked by the state’s attempt to confiscate her bike, she said.

“It’s a shame they are using a law designed to target drug cartels against average citizens,” Henry said. “People speed in cars daily, and you don’t hear about them having the state trying to confiscate their cars. … They are taking this to the extreme.”