Sunday, March 8, 2015

Paths of peril: Emilia Santiago

News-Press Sunday 3/8/15 Bike Safety Feature: Paths of peril

Janine Zeitlin, Melanie Payne and Laura Ruane 

Each Southwest Florida bike death is a different, heartbreaking story...this is Emilia Santiago's story.

Emilia Santiago, 47

Crash date: Sept. 26, 2014

This is the aftermath of a crash that killed Emilia Santiago in Collier County. (Photo: Special to

Ciro Crespo was on his lunch break when he spotted an overturned, mangled adult tricycle. It was in the middle of Airport Pulling Road near Home Depot in East Naples. His mood slumped. He knew it couldn't be good for the rider.

Crespo, an auto mechanic and cyclist, thought about how many people he sees on bikes and foot in East Naples, home to working-class neighborhoods. How the infrastructure is sorely lacking.

"The people who need it the most get the least," wrote Crespo on Facebook, where he posted a photo of the bike without the rider.

Around 12:40 p.m., Emilia Santiago, 47, was traveling from her job at the Delicias Latina deli and grocery store to her home. She was riding her red Schwinn tricycle on a sidewalk, against the traffic.

She wasn't wearing a helmet. A pickup truck driver leaving the Home Depot stopped at the stop sign but didn't see Santiago. The Ford F-150 turned right and struck her. Santiago was air-lifted to Lee Memorial and died on Oct. 4.

The driver, 54-year-old Travis Goss Jr., was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. He paid a $1,603 fine for the crash that ended Santiago's life.

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