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Old 11-17-09, 10:02 AM   #1
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Bicyclist dies after crash with vehicle in Clearwater

CLEARWATER A bicyclist died Tuesday morning after he was struck by a vehicle, police said.

The unidentified bicyclist was hit at Martin Luther King Drive and Lasalle Street about 9:45 a.m., police said. He was pronounced dead at Morton Plant Hospital at about 10:20 a.m.

Police closed the area to traffic while they investigated the crash. Preliminary reports state the man was in his 50's.

http://tampabay.com/news/publicsafet...rwater/1052310
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Old 11-17-09, 11:41 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by c.miller64 View Post
CLEARWATER A bicyclist died Tuesday morning after he was struck by a vehicle, police said.

The unidentified bicyclist was hit at Martin Luther King Drive and Lasalle Street about 9:45 a.m., police said. He was pronounced dead at Morton Plant Hospital at about 10:20 a.m.

Police closed the area to traffic while they investigated the crash. Preliminary reports state the man was in his 50's.

http://tampabay.com/news/publicsafet...rwater/1052310
I found these parts of the article interesting:

<quote>
Police say a preliminary investigation shows Nelson failed to yield to the van at the intersection. Nelson then made impact with the vehicle head on.
</quote>

I thought that bikes were suppose to have the right of way? I'm not familiar with the intersection in question. But unless the cyclist had a red light or stop sign and the driver a green light or no stop sign then does the cyclist need to yield to the car?

<quote>
Nelson was not wearing a helmet, and the bike was equipped with a motorized kit. Investigators are attempting to determine if the motor contributed to the crash.
</quote>

How do they even know if the motor was engaged at the time of the crash? Would they be looking into whether or not a person was riding a 24 speed bike vs. a 10 speed bike?

<quote>
Police say the driver, Lorenzo Hearns, 47, of Largo was cited for an unrelated traffic violation of driving with a license suspended. Hearns was not cited for the crash because he had the right of way.
</quote>

Hmm, seems to me that if Hearns had been honoring the terms of his punishment of not driving because he had a suspended license he would NOT have been on the road and he would have hit Mr. Nelson. And given that Hearns license is suspended and he shouldn't be driving then how does he have the "right of way?"
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Old 11-17-09, 11:54 AM   #3
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There is no "bikes have right of way" situation. A bike has the same ROW as a car in the same situation.

Substitute car for bike, and ask yourself what the ROW would be in the same situation.
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Old 11-17-09, 11:58 AM   #4
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Lasalle T's into MLK. There is a stop sign on Lasalle. Who had ROW would be who was on MLK.

The story does not give enough details about direction or who had the stop sign.
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Old 11-17-09, 12:15 PM   #5
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I found these parts of the article interesting:

<quote>
Police say a preliminary investigation shows Nelson failed to yield to the van at the intersection. Nelson then made impact with the vehicle head on.
</quote>

I thought that bikes were suppose to have the right of way? I'm not familiar with the intersection in question. But unless the cyclist had a red light or stop sign and the driver a green light or no stop sign then does the cyclist need to yield to the car?
Not enough details given in the article. Details like the intersection's configuration and where the cyclist was with respect to the van are all important. I'm going to give the police benefit of the doubt. It very well could have been a situation the cyclist was supposed to yield ROW and failed to.
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<quote>
Police say the driver, Lorenzo Hearns, 47, of Largo was cited for an unrelated traffic violation of driving with a license suspended. Hearns was not cited for the crash because he had the right of way.
</quote>

Hmm, seems to me that if Hearns had been honoring the terms of his punishment of not driving because he had a suspended license he would NOT have been on the road and he would have hit Mr. Nelson. And given that Hearns license is suspended and he shouldn't be driving then how does he have the "right of way?"
Unrelated. That argument goes many ways. Nelson would not have been hit had he not been riding in the first place. Its important to keep the traffic infractions separate.

Suppose Nelson survived without injuries and damaged Hearnes' van. Also, suppose Nelson was determined to be at fault. Is Nelson simply excused from any criminal or civil charges simply because Hearnes wasn't driving with a valid license? Would we consider it the same if Nelson was driving a car instead of riding a bicycle?
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Old 11-17-09, 12:22 PM   #6
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Intersection info is that Lasalle dead ends into MLK in a T with a stop sign. These are narrow 25MPH streets in a residential area.

There is no info on the direction of travel of either party. The stop sign is the controlling item at the intersection.

The driver was cited for driving on a suspended license, but beyond that, we don't know if he did anything else wrong.
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Old 11-17-09, 12:54 PM   #7
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If the driver did have the ROW he would have been going N or S on MLK. If you look in Streetview, there's a 15 mph speed limit sign on the curb side of the van at the intersection. The driver should have been going only 15 mph if driving S. If driving N he still should have been extra cautious because of the pedestrian crossing on the S side of the intersection. A school is right across the street, so the whole area may have been 15 mph. (Granted, it was a little late for morning school traffic.)

After all that, I guess my point is that if the driver was going the speed limit of either 15 or 25 mph and was entering a wide open intersection with a clear view in all directions, he should have been able to stop unless the cyclist was being totally reckless. (I don't know how fast those motorized things go.) The suspended license makes me suspicious of the driver.

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Old 11-17-09, 12:59 PM   #8
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<quote>
Nelson was not wearing a helmet, and the bike was equipped with a motorized kit. Investigators are attempting to determine if the motor contributed to the crash.
</quote>

How do they even know if the motor was engaged at the time of the crash? Would they be looking into whether or not a person was riding a 24 speed bike vs. a 10 speed bike?
Well very simply, the motor could have been running when they got there, or if not, it could have still been hot when they got there, a witness could have heard it running right before the accident, etc. etc.

Perhaps they want to figure out if maybe the throttle stuck and he failed to stop, or something of that nature.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:29 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Lasalle T's into MLK. There is a stop sign on Lasalle. Who had ROW would be who was on MLK.

The story does not give enough details about direction or who had the stop sign.
Agreed, and the statement that the cyclist and van collided head-on would or should suggest that they were both traveling in opposite directions on the same road.

<quote>
Police say a preliminary investigation shows Nelson failed to yield to the van at the intersection. Nelson then made impact with the vehicle head on.
</quote>

And not one on MLK and the other turning from Lasalle onto MLK.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:35 PM   #10
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Not enough details given in the article. Details like the intersection's configuration and where the cyclist was with respect to the van are all important. I'm going to give the police benefit of the doubt. It very well could have been a situation the cyclist was supposed to yield ROW and failed to.

Unrelated. That argument goes many ways. Nelson would not have been hit had he not been riding in the first place. Its important to keep the traffic infractions separate.

Suppose Nelson survived without injuries and damaged Hearnes' van. Also, suppose Nelson was determined to be at fault. Is Nelson simply excused from any criminal or civil charges simply because Hearnes wasn't driving with a valid license? Would we consider it the same if Nelson was driving a car instead of riding a bicycle?
Exactly, and doesn't the fact that the crash was described as being head-on imply that they were both on the same road in opposite directions? And not one turning from one to the other.

I don't necessarily agree. The driver had a suspended license, and as such shouldn't have been driving. Had he not be driving while having a suspended license then he never would have been on the road and he never would have hit Nelson.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:40 PM   #11
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Intersection info is that Lasalle dead ends into MLK in a T with a stop sign. These are narrow 25MPH streets in a residential area.

There is no info on the direction of travel of either party. The stop sign is the controlling item at the intersection.

The driver was cited for driving on a suspended license, but beyond that, we don't know if he did anything else wrong.
Agreed, it looks like a nice quite neighborhood (just looked it up at Google Maps) with a rec center at the end of Lasalle.

It would be nice to know who was where and doing what when the crash occurred.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:41 PM   #12
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After all that, I guess my point is that if the driver was going the speed limit of either 15 or 25 mph and was entering a wide open intersection with a clear view in all directions, he should have been able to stop unless the cyclist was being totally reckless. (I don't know how fast those motorized things go.) The suspended license makes me suspicious of the driver.
Maybe he was able to stop but didn't bother to since he had the right of way. There are a couple different scenarios where a bicycle violating the van's right of way could have lead to a head-on collision:

- Van going straight while the cyclist turned left from MLK onto Lasalle in front of the van. Maybe not quite head on, but it could have been essentially a head on collision.

- Van going straight while cyclist turns left out of Lasalle and doesn't make it all the way over to the opposing lane, striking the van head on..

- Cyclist and van both driving on Lasalle, with the cyclist riding the wrong way in the lane.

These would have all been pretty easy for a cop to determine right of way belonging to the van.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:43 PM   #13
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If the driver did have the ROW he would have been going N or S on MLK. If you look in Streetview, there's a 15 mph speed limit sign on the curb side of the van at the intersection. The driver should have been going only 15 mph if driving S. If driving N he still should have been extra cautious because of the pedestrian crossing on the S side of the intersection. A school is right across the street, so the whole area may have been 15 mph. (Granted, it was a little late for morning school traffic.)

After all that, I guess my point is that if the driver was going the speed limit of either 15 or 25 mph and was entering a wide open intersection with a clear view in all directions, he should have been able to stop unless the cyclist was being totally reckless. (I don't know how fast those motorized things go.) The suspended license makes me suspicious of the driver.
I though that it was a rec center, either way it suggests that there are kids in the area at different times during the day and that drivers need to be extra cautious because of that.

Agreed, why was he driving knowing that his license was suspended?
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Old 11-17-09, 01:47 PM   #14
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Well very simply, the motor could have been running when they got there, or if not, it could have still been hot when they got there, a witness could have heard it running right before the accident, etc. etc.

Perhaps they want to figure out if maybe the throttle stuck and he failed to stop, or something of that nature.
Depending on the severity of the damage done to it in the crash I would think that it would have at least stalled out. Given that it is now getting cooler here in Fl by the time LEOs and EMTs arrived on the scene I think that it's more likely to have cooled down at least somewhat.

If it was a gas motor yeah a witness could have heard it, if it was an electric motor maybe not. And if it was a gas motor then wouldn't with the bike laying on it's side cause it to stall out?

That could be, but it also again brings up the question of who was traveling in which direction, who if anyone was turning. If the cyclist was going straight and the van turning then wouldn't the cyclist have the right of way?

Right now there still aren't enough details.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:50 PM   #15
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I don't necessarily agree. The driver had a suspended license, and as such shouldn't have been driving. Had he not be driving while having a suspended license then he never would have been on the road and he never would have hit Nelson.
So should the fact that Hearnes was driving on a suspended license completely remove any legal obligation from Nelson?
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Old 11-17-09, 01:52 PM   #16
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So should the fact that Hearnes was driving on a suspended license completely remove any legal obligation from Nelson?
No, but it should put the lion's share on Hearnes. As he knew his license was suspended, and that he shouldn't have been driving.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:53 PM   #17
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If 'Head on collision with motorist having right of way' is correct; it makes me think that the cyclist was riding the wrong way.
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Old 11-17-09, 01:55 PM   #18
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Here's another good question was the van a POV (privately owned vehicle) or was it a commercial vehicle? If it was a commercial vehicle why did his boss allow him to drive on a suspended license?

As isn't it the responsibility of the boss to make sure that all of their drivers are licensed?
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Old 11-17-09, 02:02 PM   #19
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I though that it was a rec center, either way it suggests that there are kids in the area at different times during the day and that drivers need to be extra cautious because of that.
The rec center is directly across from the intersection, but there is a school just to the south and a park just to the north, so this area is likely full of kids and pedestrians.

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If 'Head on collision with motorist having right of way' is correct; it makes me think that the cyclist was riding the wrong way.
That's very likely. If the driver was making a turn and suddenly faced with a salmon, I would have more sympathy for the driver. If neither was making a turn, and the cyclist was in clear view, then not so much sympathy. I drive a car more than I bike; I consider it my responsibility as a driver to watch out for idiots as well as drive safely.

Let's don't forget that the driver's license was suspended for a reason.

Last edited by Tem; 11-17-09 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 11-17-09, 02:34 PM   #20
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Here's another good question was the van a POV (privately owned vehicle) or was it a commercial vehicle? If it was a commercial vehicle why did his boss allow him to drive on a suspended license?

As isn't it the responsibility of the boss to make sure that all of their drivers are licensed?
Yes, but they probably don't check them every day, and the guy could still have his license on him, even though it was suspended.
The article stating that he hit the van head-on could mean that he ran the stop sign and went head-on into the side of the van.
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Old 11-17-09, 03:57 PM   #21
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The rec center is directly across from the intersection, but there is a school just to the south and a park just to the north, so this area is likely full of kids and pedestrians.
Okay, thank you, I guess I didn't look far enough up and down the road in the map.



Quote:
That's very likely. If the driver was making a turn and suddenly faced with a salmon, I would have more sympathy for the driver. If neither was making a turn, and the cyclist was in clear view, then not so much sympathy. I drive a car more than I bike; I consider it my responsibility as a driver to watch out for idiots as well as drive safely.

Let's don't forget that the driver's license was suspended for a reason.
Exactly, and I would like to know what that reason is/was. As well as why he was driving on a suspended license, other then for most people perception that driving is a "right," when they should know better.
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Old 11-17-09, 04:02 PM   #22
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Yes, but they probably don't check them every day, and the guy could still have his license on him, even though it was suspended.
This is true, but if it was a commercial vehicle that still doesn't absolve the business owner making sure employees operating a company vehicle is licensed. I was always under the impression that when one had their license suspended that they had to turn it into either the DMV or the court when it was suspended.

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The article stating that he hit the van head-on could mean that he ran the stop sign and went head-on into the side of the van.
I would think that if that was the case that the article would have said something to that effect. By saying head-on collision one's first thoughts are naturally of two vehicles traveling in opposite directions and colliding head-on.
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Old 11-17-09, 04:19 PM   #23
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The prelim investigation indicates the fault of the cyclist; more investigation, more detailed, is sure to follow. Until then, we're just spitballing on what and why.

DC, check FL law for specifics about driving while suspended; there may well be something there. (My personal rule is guesses are 3 for a quarter, find out from a good source and then you know. But that's the old soldier in me....)

There's no discussion in the article about whether or not the motor was operating on the bike, only that it was there. The prelim investigation did not include any definitive info on the motor either way. THAT's one of the things further investigation will likely discover.

The whole company van thing is a what-if venture; let's not go there, I'd rather get some more concrete info in this.
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Old 11-17-09, 04:43 PM   #24
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The prelim investigation indicates the fault of the cyclist; more investigation, more detailed, is sure to follow. Until then, we're just spitballing on what and why.

DC, check FL law for specifics about driving while suspended; there may well be something there. (My personal rule is guesses are 3 for a quarter, find out from a good source and then you know. But that's the old soldier in me....)

There's no discussion in the article about whether or not the motor was operating on the bike, only that it was there. The prelim investigation did not include any definitive info on the motor either way. THAT's one of the things further investigation will likely discover.

The whole company van thing is a what-if venture; let's not go there, I'd rather get some more concrete info in this.
I wrote to the reporter who wrote the first article and he's no longer covering it, but he did refer me to the reporter who is now covering it. And she will contact me tomorrow to let me know more details.
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Old 11-17-09, 04:46 PM   #25
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CLEARWATER A bicyclist died Tuesday morning after he was struck by a vehicle, police said.

The unidentified bicyclist was hit at Martin Luther King Drive and Lasalle Street about 9:45 a.m., police said. He was pronounced dead at Morton Plant Hospital at about 10:20 a.m.

Police closed the area to traffic while they investigated the crash. Preliminary reports state the man was in his 50's.

http://tampabay.com/news/publicsafet...rwater/1052310
Watch the police lay total blame on the dead cyclist and, exonerate the motorist, outright.
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