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Collision with van kills motorcyclist

A witness says the vehicle drove over the victim after they hit head-on.

By KAMEEL STANLEY
Published July 31, 2007


A man who reportedly was driving a van involved in the fatal accident Monday waits to speak to police near the covered motorcyclist's body at S Myrtle Avenue at Bryant Street in Clearwater.
photo
[Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
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photo
[Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
Lance Morgan and Rhonda Wiskema of Largo grieve over the death of their roommate.

CLEARWATER - A man died after his motorcycle collided head-on with a van Monday afternoon on a residential street on the city's south side.

The cyclist died at the scene on Myrtle Avenue at the intersection with Bryant Street shortly after the 3:47 p.m. crash, police said.

"It all happened so fast, he didn't stand a chance," said Clearwater cab driver Thomas Attianese, a witness.

Attianese, 33, said he was driving northbound on Myrtle when the southbound biker passed him.

Moments later, Attianese looked in his rearview mirror and saw a van turn northbound onto Myrtle from Belleair Road.

"They were going head on, and they were both sort of in the middle of the road," Attianese said. "I saw him the cyclist lock his brakes up, he threw the bike down and (the van) ran him over. There was no movement, no breathing, no pulse, no nothing."

Police have not released the names of the victim or the van's driver, who stopped farther down the road but returned minutes later. He is cooperating with investigators, police said.

While police processed evidence and took statements, distraught friends of the victim started congregating around the scene.

"He was just an awesome guy," sobbed Rhonda Wiskema, who said she lived with the man. "He was a great guy."

Wiskema and her boyfriend, Lance Morgan, said their roommate had just moved from New York a couple of months ago.

The trio lived in Largo only miles from the accident scene, the couple said.

"He had just left home," Wiskema said. "He said he'd be right back."

Residents of the neighborhood said they heard a loud noise just before 4 p.m.

"By that time we turned around, the guy was flying off the motorcycle and the van ran him over," said 23-year-old Carol Daugherty, who lives along Myrtle Avenue.

Several people said they immediately called 911, saying they were able to tell from his injuries that he was in trouble.

Residents said the road is a notorious spot for speeders. Police often patrol the area for illegal activity, but never ticket speeders, they said.

"It's an ongoing occurrence," said Adrian Campbell, Daugherty's boyfriend. "It's nonstop from daylight to dark."

Neighbors said they hope something good will come out of a tragedy - that the city might install speed bumps to slow traffic down.

After the accident, someone moved the victim's black and cream Harley-Davidson to Daugherty's driveway.

A small crowd gathered near the bike, which looked nearly untouched.

"It was bound to happen," Daugherty said.

Staff photographer Douglas Clifford contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes or (727) 445-4158.

[Last modified July 30, 2007, 20:34:06]


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