Man dies days after crash

Published May 26, 2007

CLEARWATER - A veteran and a retired police officer, Raymond Kimbler seemed to die in slow motion over the course of this week.

On Monday, his car crashed into a police detective's car at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Clearwater-Largo Road.

Kimbler, 68, was thrown into the back seat of his convertible, where rescuers lifted him, bleeding from the head and semi-conscious, to a helicopter ambulance.

He languished at Bayfront Medical Center until Thursday night when he was taken off life support after his family decided his brain injuries were too extensive and altogether irreversible.

Around 9 a.m. Friday, he was pronounced dead.

"My daddy was one of the sweetest men you'd want to know, " said 25-year-old Karen Kimbler, one of nine children from two marriages. "He never ever hurt anyone."

Raymond Kimbler was born in West Virginia, though he didn't particularly care for the Mountain State, his daughter said.

He served in both the Army and the Air Force, his family said. After his military service, Kimbler started a career in Georgia, working for various law enforcement agencies: the Atlanta Police Department, the Fulton County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia State Patrol.

He retired because of heart trouble and spent some time living in North Carolina, along with his wife Cheryl.

The couple had come to Clearwater a few months ago to stay with their daughter and son-in-law on an extended vacation.

Karen Kimbler said that her father liked gardening - gladioli, cactuses and "any kind of flower that looked nice." People would drive by their yard in Clearwater and compliment his handiwork, she said.

At the time of the crash, Kimbler was leaving his son-in-law's packaging store and heading home.

A preliminary report from the Florida Highway Patrol says Kimbler was trying to turn south from Myrtle Avenue onto Clearwater-Largo Road on Monday when he pulled into the path of Clearwater police Detective Rich Kelly.

Kelly, a former Officer Friendly, was treated and released from the hospital that day.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 727 445-4157.