The official Blog for bikewalklee.org. BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County, FL.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
News-Press: Memorial held for Fort Myers cyclist killed on Sanibel Causeway
News-Press article on the 1st anniversary of the death of a cyclist killed on the Sanibel Causeway highlights the lack of action by FHP to bring charges against the driver, with quotes from BikeWalkLee.
small memorial held Monday to mark the one-year anniversary of the
death of the Fort Myers cyclist killed while riding over the Sanibel
Causeway, also served as a painful reminder to some that after a full
year, no one has been held responsible for her death.
Tracey Kleinpell was struck and killed May 7, 2011 while riding with her husband Gordon to Sanibel Island.
were tears, but it was a joyful celebration, because that is who she
was,” said family friend Mary Dahl. “The whole theme of the day was
about how she was a very special person.”
Dahl, one of
about 25 people who attended the ceremony, said Kleinpell’s death
continues to take a toll on her father and mother, George and Donna
Henault. “They are having a horrible time with it,” Dahl said.
Henaults, who were out of town Tuesday, declined to be interviewed for
this story, but they previously told The News-Press they hoped the
driver of the truck, Theresa L. Shirley, of Bokeelia, would face charges
in their daughter’s death. They also said they were concerned about the
length of time the death investigation was taking.
Florida Highway Patrol said Shirley was traveling north when she veered
across the road and struck Kleinpell, sending her over a waist-high
guardrail and into San Carlos Bay.
She was pulled out of
the water and brought to shore by passing boaters but was pronounced
dead after attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.
Shirley was not injured, and she wasn’t cited for the crash at the time. Since
that day, there has been an ongoing death investigation but there has
been no word if charges are expected to be brought against Shirley.
The perceived lack of action has some in the cycling community afraid there won’t be a resolution in the case.
really disappointed and frustrated,” said Darla Letourneau with
BikeWalkLee, a community group geared toward raising public awareness
about safe travel on the streets in Lee County. “It’s been a year, and
it’s been total silence.”
The investigation has progressed
during the past year with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
working with FHP to gather information including toxicology reports.
recent weeks, FHP handed over results of the investigation to the state
attorney’s office, the agency that will ultimately determine if charges
will be filed in the case.
State attorney’s office
spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said the case is currently under review, but
she said there is no timetable as to when a decision might be made.
it took Florida Highway Patrol one year to investigate, it will take us
time to go through everything they handed in,” she said. “We don’t set a
timetable to do a thorough review.”
Syoen added the state
attorney’s office recently had to request additional elements from FHP
for the review, and the office is still waiting for that information.
Letourneau said the lengthy investigation has people concerned no charges will ever be filed.
very worried it’s going to end up as nothing,” she said. “This case was
clear cut. There was no doubt the driver was at fault, and if they
can’t bring charges in a case like this, they will never bring charges.”
said there is a pattern state and nationwide of charges not being filed
against at-fault drivers who hit bicyclists and pedestrians, which has
promoted a culture of distracted driving.
A white ghost
bike, which was placed on the causeway as a memorial to Kleinpell after
her death, serves as a daily reminder of the loss of a woman, who would
have celebrated her 47th birthday last Thursday.
bikes are traditionally placed as roadside memorials where a cyclist has
been killed or severely injured. They are also intended to remind
motorists to share the road.
Letourneau said she’s glad the bike is still there and hopes it prevents future tragedies like
Kleinpell’s. “For people who come off Sanibel, it is a sober reminder every day,” she said.