UF Student Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver While Riding Her Bicycle in Gainesville

1253140_bicycle%20sxchu%20username%20aganaui.jpgIn early July, a 20-year-old University of Florida student died as a result of the injuries she sustained in a June 23rd hit-and-run accident. Rebecca Harris was struck by a white sedan while riding her bicycle in a crosswalk on Southwest 16th Avenue in Gainesville. After the accident, rescue crews transported Harris to a local hospital in critical condition. She reportedly suffered a traumatic brain injury, two broken legs, and a broken arm.

According to Lt. Bruce Giles of the Gainesville Police Department, although the vehicle that struck Harris did not stop, it was later found abandoned near Southwest 131st Lane. Lt. Giles stated he was certain the car found by police was the same vehicle involved in the hit-and-run accident because it not only matched accident witness reports, but the damage to the car was also consistent with Harris’ injuries. Following the collision, police issued a warrant for the arrest of 22-year-old Jessica Paige Becerra. Becerra reportedly turned herself in to police and was placed in the Alachua County Jail on June 29th. She was released four days later on a $25,000 bond.

Florida State Attorney Bill Cervone stated that the charges Becerra faces will be changed from leaving the scene of an injury accident to leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death. Because Harris died after the hit-and-run, Becerra now faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Bicyclists, skaters, joggers, and anyone traveling on foot are at risk of being the victim in a Florida pedestrian accident. Because pedestrians have little protection from cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the injuries sustained in such a crash can be catastrophic. Severely injured accident victims may suffer a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and a variety of other permanent disabilities. Unfortunately, as was the case here, vehicle collisions with pedestrians may also be fatal.

Treating the injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident is often costly. A victim may be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, physical therapy, surgery, lost income, pain, suffering, and other damages. Additionally, although no amount of compensation can bring back your loved one, close family members of those killed in pedestrian accidents may be able to relieve some of their financial burden by filing a wrongful death claim. An experienced Florida lawyer can help you evaluate your options for recovery.
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Two Men Killed After Drunk Driver Crashes Into Historic Liberty City Restaurant

506099_caution_%20sxchu%20username%20ugaldew.jpgTwo men were killed outside of an historic Liberty City eatery when an allegedly drunk driver lost control of his truck and struck them. 60-year-old Wilton Harris and 61-year-old Al Hamlin were standing on a sidewalk in front of Jumbo’s Restaurant when a white pickup truck driven by 53-year-old Antonio Lawrence reportedly sped into the parking lot. Initially, the pickup hit a car parked outside of the eatery. The force of the impact then pushed the parked car into the two men before the vehicle went through the front windows and came to a stop inside of the restaurant. During the accident, Hamlin was reportedly thrown into the restaurant while Harris was pinned under the pickup truck. Both men died at the scene of the crash. Luckily, although about a dozen patrons were inside of the restaurant at the time, no one else was injured.

According to an accident witness, Lawrence appeared to be intoxicated as he stumbled out of his pickup truck following the crash. He was later arrested and charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter. Lawrence is reportedly being held in Miami on a $30,000 bond.

Unexpected car crashes are one of the leading causes of wrongful death in Florida every year. Because of the number of beaches, amusement parks, seaports, and other attractions located in the state, many people are on the roadways and sidewalks at any given time. Unfortunately, commuters, pedestrians, students, tourists, and others risk being hurt by a careless or impaired motorist every day.

When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the resulting injuries are frequently catastrophic. Pedestrians who are hit by a car often sustain broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and may even be killed. In Florida, an injured pedestrian may recover compensation for medical costs, physical and occupational therapy expenses, pain, suffering, and lost wages. Close relatives of someone killed in a Florida pedestrian accident may also be able to recover for wrongful death. If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident caused by a careless or intoxicated driver, it is a good idea to contact a knowledgeable Florida car accident lawyer as soon as you are able.
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Bond Set for Driver Accused of Fleeing Florida After Striking Pedestrian Near the University of Miami

1375248_untitled%20sxchu.jpgA University of Miami freshman was left in a coma after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Miami. 19-year-old Eliza Gresh was hit by a silver Mercedes Benz while crossing a road near her school on April 27th. The force of the impact reportedly threw Gresh onto the vehicle’s hood before the driver fled the scene of the accident. Miami Police Major Rene Lansa stated that another driver attempted to follow the Mercedes, but stopped pursuing it once the alleged hit-and-run driver reached speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour.

Gresh is currently in the intensive care unit at a local hospital where she is being treated for broken bones and a traumatic head injury. According to her parents, despite that Gresh still remains in a coma, she is beginning to show small improvements.

About one week after the crash, the alleged hit-and-run driver, 24-year old Luis Felipe Moya, took the Mercedes to a Hialeah body shop for repairs. He reportedly told the shop’s owner, Gabriel Antonio Castro, that he had accidentally struck a wall. He also stated his mother, Zoila, owned the vehicle and because of that he preferred she file the automobile insurance claim. According to Castro, there were numerous red flags indicating the driver was being untruthful with him after he examined the damage to the vehicle. Castro also stated the man driving the car answered his questions in an evasive manner. Convinced he recognized the Mercedes from a news story about the hit-and-run accident, Castro immediately notified police of his suspicions. Following the tip from Castro, law enforcement officers took Moya’s mother into custody and charged her with insurance fraud. On June 5th, Moya was arrested in New York.

Following his arrest, Moya’s bond was set at $250,000. The Miami judge also stated that if Moya is able to post bond, he will be placed on house arrest. Moya has reportedly received at least 42 traffic citations over the past five years, including both careless and reckless driving violations.

Students like Gresh, as well as skateboarders, joggers, tourists, and parents walking with strollers are all at risk of being injured in a Florida pedestrian accident. Too often, pedestrian crashes could have been avoided if a driver had not acted carelessly or negligently. Common injuries sustained in such an accident include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures, a permanent disability such as paralysis, and even wrongful death.

Due to the severity of most injuries, the medical costs associated with a pedestrian accident can be astronomical. If you or a loved one was hurt by a careless driver, contact a qualified Florida car accident lawyer to discuss your rights as soon as you are able.
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Pregnant Woman Killed in Fort Lauderdale Poolside Cabana Accident

1197277_by_the_pool%20sxchu.jpgLast week, a pregnant Massachusetts woman was killed when a car drove into a Fort Lauderdale hotel’s poolside cabana while she was inside. 27-year-old Alanna DeMella died after 35-year-old Rosa Rivera Kim of Plantation lost control of the car she was driving, drove over a curb, and hit a cabana at the Riverside Hotel. DeMella’s 31-year-old husband was inside a nearby men’s room at the time of the accident. He was taken to Broward General Medical Center for minor injuries. The couple’s unborn son also died in the accident.

Kim was also taken to Broward General Medical Center for her injuries. Police did not perform a breathalyzer test or draw Kim’s blood immediately following the accident due to her injuries. The accident is currently under investigation and police are still determining whether to file charges against Kim.

The Massachusetts couple was reportedly in town for a marriage conference paid for by their church. They apparently chose to extend their vacation by one day after the conference. Just hours after the couple checked into the Riverside hotel, DeMella, a teaching assistant for third-grade special education students, was killed.

Although most are not as bizarre as this one, unexpected automobile accidents are one of the main causes of wrongful death in the State of Florida. Because of Florida’s many beaches, seaports, and amusement parks, our state often has a great number of tourists on both sidewalks and the road. Every day, tourists, commuters, students, pedestrians, and others risk being injured by a motor vehicle. Common causes of Florida pedestrian accidents include impaired driving, speeding, driver inattention, failure to yield, and drivers who are distracted by cell phones, email, or text messaging.

Pedestrian accident injuries are often catastrophic and the expenses associated with recovering from such an injury can be high. In Florida, injured pedestrians may recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, surgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and pain and suffering. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a pedestrian or car accident, it is highly recommended that you speak with a qualified Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
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Fort Lauderdale Hit-And-Run Leaves 84-Year-Old in Coma

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A hit and run driver nearly killed an 84-year-old woman on August 2, 2010 when he plowed into her near an intersection on Commercial Boulevard in Tamarac. Lee-dah St. Clair, a Haiti earthquake survivor, was crossing the street when a 1995 Chevy Caprice hit her going about 40 miles per hour. The driver, Eric Hall, 23, initially fled the scene.

According to police, Hall went to a friend’s house and removed his plates from his vehicle, hoping to hide his crime. However, he was later arrested and charged for the accident. He told police he left the scene because he panicked. If Ms. St Clair dies, he could be charged with involuntary manslaughter or worse. At this point, he already faces charges of fleeing an accident scene.

Pedestrian accidents in Florida are all too common, simply because of increased population and tourism mixed with slow construction of sidewalks and adequate pedestrian signals at intersections. Worse yet, hit-and-run accidents are serious and can often be deadly.

A personal injury lawyer can help you get justice for injuries suffered or for a wrongful death of a loved one after this type of tragedy. A lawyer can help build your case by using independent investigators to study the crime scene for additional evidence that will help you find the parties responsible. If you can’t get justice from the police, contact a lawyer today to help you get what you deserve.

Woman Killed Crossing Street in Lauderhill

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On August 10, 2010, a woman lost her life after being struck by a van while crossing the street. The woman, in her 50s, was crossing Inverrary Boulevard just after 6am. The driver of a white Dodge Caravan collided with her, forcing her to hit the driver’s front bumper and windshield. She was carried more than 60 yards before the driver stopped the van. According to rescue officials, the woman died en route to Broward General Medical Center. The driver of the van was treated and released from Florida Medical Center.

Florida Tops List of Most Dangerous Walking States More than in any other state, pedestrians are at risk on Florida streets every time they venture out. Distracted, drunk or careless drivers in the Sunshine State were responsible for 11.1% of pedestrian deaths and 17.4% of bicyclist deaths in the U.S. in 2008, according to a 2010 report published in USA Today. For a state that only has 6% of the nation’s total population, this number puts Florida at the top of the list of the most dangerous places to walk or bike.

A number of factors have made Florida dangerous for non-drivers, including rapid population growth mixed with lagging construction of sidewalks and bike lanes, mass tourism rates and warm weather, which drives more people to the streets on foot or on bicycles.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you must contact a personal injury attorney. Beyond criminal charges, civil action can often be taken after a wrongful death or serious injury involving a vehicle and a pedestrian.

Florida Cities Top List of Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians

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A study published by Transportation for America reports that the state of Florida is home to the top four most dangerous cities for pedestrians. Orlando/Kissimmee, Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville are the four metropolitan areas that top the list of the organization’s “Most Dangerous Cities for Walking.” The list is based on injury and fatality statistics gathered between 2007 and 2008. During that time, Orlando had the most fatalities, averaging nearly 3 deaths per 100,000. That number is especially high, given the fact that only 1.3 in 100,000 people walk as a primary means of transportation to get to work.

Pedestrian Fatalities in the United States
Across the country, pedestrians account for more than 76,000 American deaths in the last 15 years. Children, elderly and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in this figure, according to Transportation for America, but anyone can be the victim of a distracted or negligent driver, no matter what their age or physical ability. Speeding, drunk driving and driver error are typically to blame for pedestrian fatalities. In addition, dangerous roadways without sidewalks or dedicated crosswalks also increase the risk of injury and death for pedestrians.

Although there are several organizations like T4A that are fighting for safer streets, these accidents continue to occur daily. If you or someone you care about has been injured or killed by a negligent driver while walking, you deserve justice. A personal injury lawyer in Florida can help defend your case and get you compensation for your loss.

Search Is On in South Florida for Hit-and-Run Driver

The Sun Sentinel reported on December 1 that an investigation is underway surrounding an incident just before Thanksgiving.

On November 25, a 62-year old pedestrian was struck by a car in Fort Lauderdale. Anostrave Benjamin is reported to be in critical condition at Broward General Medical Center. According to the story, a white Dodge Neon struck Benjamin while he was crossing West Sunrise Boulevard at Northwest Fourth Avenue Lauderdale. Though not much is not known about the vehicle, police stated that the Neon was missing hubcaps and had tinted windows.

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We have discussed many stories about pedestrian accidents on our blog. Attention has grown due to incidents such as this, and staggering statistics which show that 502 pedestrians were killed in Florida in 2008. Despite the drop in fatalities over the past four years, it’s stories like this that remind us to be careful when crossing the streets in the major metropolitan areas of South Florida, especially during the holidays.

If anyone has information regarding this incident, police have asked that you call Fort Lauderdale Traffic Homicide Investigator Cheri Creque at 954-828-5825 or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Study Reveals Florida is the Least Safe State for Pedestrians

Pedestrians may want to think twice before taking a stroll in South Florida. According to NBC Miami, a study by Transportation for America showed that Florida is the least safe state in the country for pedestrians and bikers. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranked 3rd overall, with the Orlando-Kissimmee area and the Tampa-Clearwater-St. Petersburg area beating out South Florida. Jacksonville was ranked 4th.

The study and the report by NBC note that much of the problem may be due to infrastructure. Florida is constantly growing and the truth is that our cities may not have been prepared for such growth. State highways throughout the country have widened, and state governments have put sidewalks and bike lanes on the back-burner to accommodate traffic.

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However, the study also notes budgetary spending might be an issue. According to the study, no state uses more than five percent of federal transportation funds on pedestrian-friendly mechanisms such as crosswalks, sidewalks and speed humps.

Our state must act quickly because the numbers are high and, without attention, will continue to rise. In Florida, there are 3.02 pedestrian fatalities for every 100,000 people while the U.S. average is 1.26 people, according to Transportation for America. Over 16 percent of traffic deaths in Florida involved pedestrians, yet only 1.5 percent of state funds are used for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

With straining state budgets throughout the country, there are no guarantees that our legislature will be able to implement more safety measures without more resources. It is up to us as drivers to promote safety in all of our cities.

Auto Accident on Expressway Kills Two in South Florida

On Friday, October 9, two men were killed in a car accident on the Palmetto Expressway near NW 122nd street in Hialeah, Florida. According to the Miami Herald, the auto accident occurred at about 4 a.m., pinning one man under a boat and leaving another driver dead. Heavy traffic problems resulted.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a Ford pick- up truck, towing a boat, pulled over on the shoulder and a red vehicle pulled off in front to help. While the men were underneath the boat, a Chevy Malibu went out of control and hit the boat, which fell on the men, killing one. Apparently, the second man ran in the red vehicle was frightened and drove off.

The driver of the Malibu was also killed, while the passenger in the Malibu was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Police are still investigating, and FHP has determined that the boat and the truck were stolen. The police also found a bag of marijuana near the Chevy and three bags of a substance which they are testing for cocaine.

Our blog posting entitled “Florida Auto Safety: Move Over Law Saves Lives” discussed laws and safety tips which drivers should follow to avoid tragedies such as this one. While one can’t control an out of control vehicle or other outside factors, drivers should always remember to move far over to the side of the road when checking for damage to your car or any cargo you may be towing, and to be mindful of other drivers while parked on the shoulder.