Attorney Reyes: “When you become a driver in Florida, you always have a higher duty to everybody around you.”

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – It was a deadly weekend across Tampa Bay as several traffic accidents led to fatalities at intersections known to be dangerous for pedestrian crossings. Over the weekend, three deaths were the result of separate pedestrian versus vehicle accidents across Tampa Bay. CW44’a Andrea Alvarez spoke with an local advocate for pedestrian safety who says crosswalk provisions are long overdue. 

“When you become a driver in Florida, you always have a higher duty to everybody around you,” said Edward Reyes, a lawyer at Tampa’s Reyes Law Firm.

Reyes has become a local advocate for pedestrian safety across Tampa Bay, and because Florida ranks among some of the deadliest states for pedestrians, he’s speaking out after three deaths happened over the weekend surrounding this very issue. “People come here to vacation, people come here to walk around. A lot of these accidents typically happen in lower income neighborhoods because they can’t afford insurance, they can’t afford a car, there’s also not as many crosswalks, there’s also not as many provisions in place,” said Reyes.

In a 2019 report taken on 20 of the deadliest cities in the country for pedestrians, 9 were in Florida.

Friday night, Clearwater police and fire crews responded to this intersection of Belleair Road and Missouri Ave after a woman was struck by at least one vehicle.

Police say the woman was attempting to cross Missouri Avenue against the pedestrian signal when she was struck. She was one of three who died from their injuries after being struck by vehicles in intersections over the weekend across Tampa Bay.

In Hillsborough County, a man was hit on Hillsborough Avenue after walking into the road for unknown reasons just before 4:00 am Sunday. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s officials tell me two responding deputies accidentally struck the body which was still lying in the road after previously being hit and killed by the citizen driver. The Florida highway patrol is now investigating the incident.

Another fatal pedestrian versus vehicle accident happened in Largo Saturday involving a juvenile male who passed away from his injuries. “There’s two parts to it. You have to think of what the pedestrian’s doing and also what the driver was doing because both people are distracted many times and both may not be following the laws many times,” said Reyes. He says it’s all fact specific, after the fact. But what the focus needs to be on is preventing the incidents in the first place. “It would be nice is there were certain provisions in place. I think that may reduce some of the injuries as well,” he said.

In an effort to protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office says they’re turning their attention to focus on dangerous intersections.

CW44 News At 10 will provide further updates as they become available.

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