SARASOTA (WWSB) - One of the four bicyclists who was hit by a vehicle last Tuesday in Venice has died.
According to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, 68-year-old William Harrison succumbed to injuries sustained when he was struck by a car driven by a 91-year-old woman. Two of the four bicyclists hit remain at the hospital and a third has been discharged.
The other three bicyclists have been identified as:
- Joel Calabrese, 67, of Venice
- Sarah Calabrese, 55, of Venice
- John Ustruck, 60, of North Venice
It is unclear which patients remain at the hospital.
The accident happened around 8:30am on October 30 at Center Road and Rockley Boulevard, near Venice Middle School. All four bicyclists were rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Florida Highway Patrol says the bicyclists were wearing helmets, were in the outer bicycle lane traveling east when they were switching over to the left lane and were hit by a 91-year-old woman from Venice. All four bicycles were hit from behind.
The bicyclists were all thrown in various directions. The driver of the car continued forward to the intersection then turned around and parked at the scene.
“We were obviously devastated, we’re a tight community,” Don Lacoste, Vice President of the Coastal Cruisers Bicycle Club.
The four experienced riders are part of the Coastal Cruisers Bicycle Club, a club consisting of more than 500 members.
“When we collect for a group ride we talk about safety, we go over some of the basics of traveling in a group and we are making sure we are communicating with each other during the course of the ride,” said Lacoste.
There continues to be a strong push for motorists to work together with bicyclists and pedestrians to make our roads safer. Leading that push is Mike Lasche, Executive Director of Florida Walks and Bikes. He tells us Florida is now number one when it comes to bicyclist fatalities per capita.
“Florida was designed, unfortunately in the age of the automobile," said Lasche. We also have a very transient population in Florida, plus Florida has not taken the steps necessary to make biking and walking safer, there’s a fault here with state government.”
Lasche says all roads should be designed with the pedestrian and bicyclist in mind and future communities should be built to incorporate walking and bicycling. Residents near Center Road are urging the state to lower the speed limit at the sight of the crash from 45 to 35 miles per hour and to add a stop light. There is a protest planned on Center Road in Venice Monday morning at 8:45 regarding these requests.
“We are a vehicle, and therefore we are traveling with traffic, that’s just part of bicycling,” said Lacoste.
Authorities are continuing with their investigation into the crash.