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Deadly stretch of road claims another victim

A man on a scooter is killed trying to dodge traffic to cross Missouri Avenue in Largo.

By DEMORRIS A. LEE, Times Staff Writer
Published December 13, 2007


A pedestrian looks at where a man trying to cross Missouri Avenue in Largo on a three-wheel electric scooter was hit by a pickup and killed Wednesday.
photo
[Jim Damaske | Times]
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photo
[Jim Damaske | Times]
The man, whose name has not been released by Largo police, was trying to cross Missouri south of Rosery Road when he was struck about 2:20 p.m. The scooter was not in a crosswalk when it was struck, police said.

LARGO -- A yellow tarp covered the dead man's body just a few feet away, yet pedestrians continued to dodge traffic on Missouri Avenue, hundreds of yards from the nearest crosswalk.

It was the latest fatality on what has become a deadly stretch of road for pedestrians. In March, a similar accident two blocks away killed an elderly man and injured his wife.

Police say they've tried to steer pedestrians toward crosswalks.

"People are trying to cross when they can, instead of going to the crosswalk," Largo police Lt. Michael L. Loux said. "It's one of the issues we've been trying to address."

Wednesday's accident occurred when the victim, whose name has not been released by Largo police, tried to cross the six lanes of Missouri from east to west on his scooter at about 2:15 p.m., police said. He did not use a crosswalk, police said.

He reached the inside lane and was trying to get onto the median when he was hit by a northbound 1997 GMC Sierra pickup driven by 59-year-old Angus T. Davis III of Clearwater, police said.

"I heard the screeching of the truck's tires and turned around," said Ashley Restivo, 23, who was returning movies at the Blockbuster video store directly in front of where the fatal accident occurred.

"I saw the scooter hit the truck and the man go flying in the air," she said. "As he was coming back down, he hit the truck again."

The truck came to a stop with its left front tire atop the scooter. The impact dented the truck's hood and knocked off the scooter's seat, the rider's black ball cap and both of his brown bedroom slippers.

The posted speed limit is 45 mph.

"He looked like he stopped the scooter driver and was trying to get over the median," said Restivo, who had her 3-year-old and 10-month-old sonswith her. "He didn't have enough time."

Police are still investigating the accident and don't yet know if alcohol was a factor. Davis' blood was drawn and will be analyzed to determine what, if any, charges are warranted, Loux said.

It is not against the law to cross a street outside of the crosswalk.

"It's legal to cross the road at a 90-degree angle as long as you don't suddenly step from a curb or violate the right away of a vehicle," Loux said. "There's an investigation to see if there was a violation of the right way by either party."

Loux said a person is considered jaywalking if he crosses a road at an angle outside of a crosswalk.

Wednesday's fatality isn't the first time a pedestrian has been killed crossing Missouri. The heavily populated area is saturated with foot traffic due to the many apartment homes and a large mobile home park in the area. There's also a Wal-Mart on the west side of the street and a Kmart on the east.

On March 25, Armando Fallo, 85, was killed and his wife, Mary, 80, was seriously injured when they tried to cross Missouri Avenue at Jasper Street. The intersection is two blocks north of where Wednesday's fatality occurred.

Last year, 29 pedestrians died on Pinellas roads -- five of them while using crosswalks. Another 465 were injured, 112 of them in crosswalks.

There have been a number of deaths in 2007 as well, although final statistics are not yet available.

In October, Deborah K. Carey, 48, was killed when she walked into traffic and was struck on Tampa Road west of U.S. 19.

In September, Carl Mansperger, 77, of Columbus, Ohio, was killed as he tried to cross Seminole Boulevard in Largo. He stopped at the center median. When he tried to cross the northbound lane, Mansperger stepped in front of a 2006 Honda.

"Police have been trying to get the word out that the safest place for the pedestrian to cross is at a crosswalk," Loux said. "Vehicles expect pedestrians to be crossing at a crosswalk instead of between them."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

[Last modified December 12, 2007, 23:07:20]


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