A 31-year-old man downed a double shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky at 11 a.m. Thursday and thirteen minutes later struck a pedestrian on Bayshore Boulevard, turning one of Tampa’s most scenic stretches into a crime scene.
The impact flung the pedestrian into Hillsborough Bay and tore off chunks of Bayshore’s balustrade, exposing bare rebar.
Witnesses later recalled how they had seen the man’s white Ford F-150 — a Pinch A Penny pool supply truck — swerving in and out of traffic on Bayshore before the crash, according to an arrest report. They estimated that he was going 60 or 70 mph in a 35-mph zone.
The driver struck the man near the intersection of Bayshore and W Julia Street at about 11:13 a.m., police said. Passersby jumped into the water to try to save the man, but he was later pronounced dead.
The deceased, a 70-year-old retired financial trust officer, had been out for a walk near his home on a breezy day.
The driver told officers he smoked marijuana at about 7 a.m., then drank the whiskey later that morning, according to his arrest report. Investigators said he had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.234, or almost three times the level at which Florida law presumes impairment, 0.08. His blood was drawn at the hospital on Thursday. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on Friday.
A police mugshot of the driver showed his face was bloodied after the crash. He currently has a valid driver’s license, records show, but he also has a history of minor traffic infractions.
In 2007, he was cited in two different cases, once for permitting an unauthorized person to drive and later for driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition. Records show he paid both fines.
The next year, he was cited for failure to obey a traffic sign and later paid that fine.
In 2013, he was pulled over while driving a Mercury sedan near N MacDill Avenue and W North A Street. An officer cited him for driving with an expired tag and driving with a suspended license. The man later pleaded no contest to the license charge while the expired tag charge was dismissed, records show. His state driving history indicates the suspension stemmed from failing to pay a fine or fee in court.
He pleaded guilty in 2016 to a felony charge of providing false information on a pawnbroker form and was sentenced to a year of probation.
This is not the first pedestrian killed on Bayshore Boulevard. The road is a hot spot for speeding, which has resulted in a series of tragic, deadly crashes.
A 39-year-old mother was killed in 2004 as she prepared for a jog, struck by a Navy petty officer driving 80 mph on a motorcycle.
In May 2018, another mother, 24, was pushing her 21-month-old daughter in a stroller through a Bayshore crosswalk when a Ford Mustang hit them. Mother and daughter both died. The car was going 102 mph six seconds before impact, police said. Two teens face charges of vehicular homicide in that case, accused of racing before the crash.
After that incident, the city made several changes, including lowering the speed limit to 35 mph, narrowing lanes and installing flashing signs at crosswalks.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, the city’s former police chief, released this statement: “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim in this horrific tragedy. As a city, we’re committed to Vision Zero and have made and will continue to make a number of safety upgrades to Bayshore Boulevard and many other Tampa roadways.” Vision Zero is a worldwide push to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.
Pedestrian accidents can be incredibly complex. Injury victims or family members who have lost loved ones must deal with insurance companies and possibly even legal teams that do not want to make a large settlement payout. Our Tampa Bay Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can make sure you are treated fairly throughout the entire process. We will start by obtaining all of the evidence from the accident. This can include police reports, video surveillance, photographs from the scene, eyewitness accounts, and more. If you are injured, we will make sure you are evaluated by a trusted medical professional who can attest to the cause and severity of your injuries. From there we will work to calculate your total economic losses by obtaining your medical bills, proof of lost income, necessary home and vehicle modification bills, and more. Once this is done we will calculate your total non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and mental anguish damages. The final step will be negotiating with all parties involved in order to reach a fair settlement. If one cannot be reached we will go to trial to secure the financial compensation you truly deserve.
Sadly, driver negligence causes a large percentage of pedestrian accidents. All motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care when behind the wheel of a vehicle, and failure to do so is negligence. The most common ways in which negligent drivers cause collisions with pedestrians include:
- Failure to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks
- Distracted driving
- Failure to obey traffic signals and signs
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to signal when turning
- Disregarding traffic or weather conditions