On a recent Tuesday morning in May, a retired Clearwater policeman stood on the sidewalk at his post as school crossing guard, assisting children with crossing the dangerous intersection of Belcher Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. It would be his last morning on the job, as the 70-year-old man was fatally injured by a man driving a Cadillac who ran a red light on the way to drop off his two children at a preschool program.
The driver was a 28-year-old man with convictions for drug dealing. He ran the light and smashed into a Honda that was turning ahead of him. The Honda spun and hit the crossing guard, who died at the scene.
A 4-year-old girl in the Cadillac was ejected from the vehicle into the street. The man let her lie there and pulled a 2-year-old child from the wreckage, passed her to a stranger at the accident scene and said, “Please take care of my child.” Both children had been unrestrained in the car. He ran from the carnage, then backtracked to remove something from the Cadillac, before running off again.
The man’s criminal history goes back over twelve years to his teens. According to court records, in Pinellas County, he has been issued traffic citations or been criminally charged over 30 times. He has convictions for distribution of cocaine and obstructing police. He also has three convictions for fleeing the cops, often when his driver’s license was revoked or suspended.
Police discovered the man only a few blocks from the scene of the car accident. While being questioned, he admitted to running away because of a suspended license. In addition to that charge and running a red light, the man faces multiple other charges, the most serious being leaving the scene of a crash involving a death.
Statistics indicate that the intersection where the fatality occurred is number two on the list of the most accident prone intersections in Clearwater. The trio of cities of Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater are considered the second most dangerous area for pedestrians in America by Smart Growth America, an organization advocating for better community development.
In cases of wrongful death, there sometimes are multiple defendants who bear different percentages of responsibility for fatal accidents. A jury can determine who is most at fault when awarding damages.
Source: The Tampa Tribune, “Driver arrested in fatal Clearwater crash” Stephen Thompson, May. 20, 2014