Articles on Pedestrian Accidents on Gulf Blvd

Beach towns' Gulf Boulevard a risky trip for pedestrians

By Les Neuhaus, Times Correspondent

Thursday, October 22, 2015 1:29pm
Walking or cycling in the area can be tricky, especially along Gulf Boulevard, which connects the beach communities for roughly 15 miles from St. Pete Beach to Clearwater.

Injuries and deaths from what law enforcement and transportation agencies dub "pedestrian crashes" along Gulf Boulevard have alarmed residents for years. This year, two people were killed in Madeira Beach along the road: The first was a 92-year-old man crossing mid block — not at a crosswalk; and the other was a 20-year-old woman riding on a skateboard at night. Both involved hit-and-run drivers.

Since 2010, 10 people have been killed along the road, according to the Florida Department of Transportation and the Treasure Island Police Department. Overall, 72 people on foot or bicycle were hit from 2010 to 2014, according to the DOT. The figures break down this way: 22 in 2010, 17 in 2011 and 11 each year from 2012 to 2014.

A national study published in 2014 listed Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater as the second most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in the country. When seasonal residents make their annual pilgrimage, the population doubles in certain areas and Gulf Boulevard bursts at the seams with traffic on weekends. Sections of the road handled anywhere from roughly 15,000 to 22,000 cars per day on average, according to DOT figures for 2013 — the most recent year such figures were available.

Jarred by the study in 2014, officials sprang into action. Through DOT, state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies, academics and advocacy groups, a plan to make Florida roads safer was hatched, including a focus on Gulf Boulevard. Grants have been handed out to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ($59,000), St. Pete Beach Police Department ($10,000), Treasure Island Police Department ($5,500) and Indian Shores Police Department ($600) to warn and cite motorists and pedestrians since last December, according to the DOT and those law enforcement departments. Awareness programs with businesses have become routine, along with campaigns by advocacy groups targeting tourists and beachgoers. Crosswalks have been installed or upgraded — 49 in all — to meet new standards, according to DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.

"Since 2010, the overall number of crashes occurring at crosswalks has decreased," Carson said. "This is a tremendous accomplishment, especially when considering that the total number of marked crosswalks has increased, and informal observations indicate more pedestrians are crossing now than in 2010."

But the fact that many beachgoers are tourists unfamiliar with the area remains a problem. Many cross wherever they want, darting between drivers already distracted by various sights and sounds along the road.

"There were a tremendous amount of pedestrian issues that came up about four years ago," said Treasure Island Police Chief Armand Boudreau. "We had four significant fatalities in a short time that all involved alcohol."

Boudreau said traffic changes when snowbirds make their way to the area. Treasure Island's official population was just recalculated, he said, to 6,700. But when seasonal residents return, the population can balloon to 18,000-20,000, he said.

During four hours on one recent Sunday, 48 cars did not yield to pedestrians after the buttons to cross had been pushed by people trying to cross at crosswalks between 129th and 131st streets. The button on a pole on the west side of Gulf Boulevard was not working, leaving people vulnerable when they crossed.

Some pedestrians appeared to be alarmed at the lack of motorist awareness.

"Right as we were crossing, I was talking about this very topic," Mark Jenkins, 45, of Largo, said while there with his two daughters. "These crosswalks are the worst thing in the world. I think there should be red lights at them, but even then, I still think it's dangerous out here. People (motorists) just don't know that they're supposed to stop. If they had red lights, instead of yellow flashing lights, I think it would alert drivers that they're supposed to stop."

Others shrugged it off, saying they knew the dangers of Gulf Boulevard and never crossed without making sure it was safe.

Julie Bond, a senior research associate at the Center for Urban Transportation Research, housed on the campus of the University of South Florida, said it is everyone's responsibility to be aware.

"However, if drivers aren't yielding to pedestrians, then that's when enforcement plays a big role," said Bond, who also works as a project manager for the DOT-funded WalkWise Tampa Bay program.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the money his office received from the DOT has paid for overtime so deputies can patrol areas like Gulf Boulevard. He didn't think adding red lights or changing the signs at crosswalks would have much impact.

"People should know to stop,'' he said."I don't think it's an understanding issue. I think it's a paying attention issue, especially when it comes to distracted driving involving alcohol, cellphones and radios."

The sheriff went on to say that as long as tourism and alcohol are a part of Gulf Boulevard, it will be a "chronic problem that will be cyclical, but we can mitigate it through education. But you can't have signs up everywhere, and you can't put a fence up."

© 2016 Tampa Bay Times

Madeira Beach pedestrian fatally struck by SUV on Gulf Boulevard staff
Published: November 27, 2015
A Madeira Beach man was killed Thursday night when he was struck by an SUV while crossing Gulf Boulevard.

Pinellas County deputies say Paul Richard Miller, 58, was crossing eastbound at Gulf Boulevard near 134th Avenue East around 7:15 p.m. when he was struck by a southbound 2012 Jeep Liberty driven by 80-year-old Everett Pyle Jr., of St. Petersburg.

Miller, who was not crossing at a crosswalk, was pronounced dead at Palms of Palms of Pasadena Hospital, deputies said.

Neither speed nor alcohol appear to be factors in the crash, deputies said.

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Pedestrian cited in St. Pete Beach crash that killed scooter driver

Times staff Wednesday, March 2, 2016 7:38pm
ST. PETE BEACH — A pedestrian was cited for contributing to a crash that killed a scooter driver in early February, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

David Lang, 72, of St. Pete Beach had been driving a motor scooter on Gulf Boulevard on the afternoon of Feb. 2. Authorities say a pedestrian, 18-year-old Jeffrey Kurnick, walked into his path while crossing at 70th Avenue and collided with the scooter.

Lang lost control and fell off the scooter. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Initially, investigators said Lang's death was caused by a heart attack after the crash. But the medical examiner's office determined that it was blunt trauma, a result of the accident, that killed him.

Kurnick of Tampa was cited Tuesday for failing to yield to the scooter's right of way, according to the Sheriff's Office. He had not been using a crosswalk. He refused medical attention after the crash, as he suffered only minor bruising.

He has a mandatory court appearance in March.

Pedestrian cited in St. Pete Beach crash that killed scooter driver 03/02/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 7:42pm]
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© 2016 Tampa Bay Times

Treasure Island woman dies after being hit by truck on Gulf Boulevard

Times staff Saturday, March 5, 2016 10:22pm

TREASURE ISLAND — A 64-year-old woman died Saturday afternoon after she was hit by a vehicle as she crossed Gulf Boulevard, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said she wasn't using a designated crosswalk and crossed at mid-block.

Patricia Simmons of 10173 Gulf Blvd., was crossing from east to west near the 10100 block of Gulf Boulevard about 1 p.m. She was struck by a 2014 Toyota Tundra driven by Randall Coffman, 46, of St. Petersburg, deputies said. His wife and two children were in the car.

Coffman immediately stopped, deputies said.

Simmons was taken to the Palms of Pasadena Hospital, where she died at 1:44 p.m.

Investigators said impairment and speed do not appear to be factors in the crash.

The Sheriff's Office has a contract with the city of Treasure Island to investigate major accidents. Deputies said the investigation is ongoing.

© 2016 Tampa Bay Times


Clearwater Police investigate fatal pedestrian crash

Article published on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016
CLEARWATER – A 78-year-old woman died the afternoon of Aug. 24 at a local hospital from injuries suffered when she was hit by a truck while crossing Gulf Boulevard in Sand key.

According to a media release from Clearwater police, Arlene Anderson, who lived in a condo building on Gulf Boulevard, was attempting to cross in the 1500 block of Gulf Boulevard shortly before 8 a.m. when she was struck by a 2008 Ford F150 truck driven by Steven Marteeny, 49, of Zephyrhills.

Anderson was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with what were thought to be non-life-threatening injuries. She died late Wednesday afternoon.

Police said that the victim was crossing in a crosswalk with the crosswalk lights activated at the time she was struck. The driver said he did not see the victim. Neither speed nor alcohol appear to be a factor.

Article published on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

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Deputies: Woman faces DUI manslaughter charge in fatal pedestrian crash on Gulf Boulevard

Tampa Bay Times staff February 9, 2017
Ashley Konfort faces DUI manslaughter charges after Pinellas County deputies say she fatally struck a woman crossing Gulf Boulevard in Madeira Beach on Feb. 8, 2017. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]

A Treasure Island woman was impaired when she fatally struck a 73-year-old North Port woman who was crossing Gulf Boulevard in Madeira Beach on Wednesday night, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

After showing signs of impairment, 26-year-old Ashley Konfort told investigators she had taken multiple prescription drugs. Deputies say the investigators also found marijuana inside her 2014 Hyundai Elantra.

According to deputies, 73-year-old Nancy Durham-Jones was walking with her husband around 8:30 p.m. when she activated the flashing light for the crosswalk on Gulf Boulevard, just north of 130th Avenue.

While crossing westbound, Konfort struck Durham-Jones in the crosswalk while driving in the median southbound lane, deputies say.

Durham-Jones died at the scene, deputies said.

Speed does not appear to be a factor in the crash, deputies said.

Konfort faces one count of DUI manslaughter and one count of marijuana possession.

Konfort, who had two previous arrests on charges of DUI and cocaine possession in 2012, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and released after posting $20,500 bail, jail records show.

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times