Sunday, March 8, 2015

Paths of peril: James Chelius Jr.

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 James Chelius' story.

James Chelius Jr., 61

Crash date: May 4, 2014

James Chelius Jr. (Photo: Special to
Several months after James Chelius died, his boss spotted a small tribute to Chelius that spoke volumes. 

Chelius was a managing shareholder at the Fort Myers office of Banker Lopez Gassler. Joe Lopez, president of the Tampa-based law firm, had stopped at a court reporter office in Fort Myers, where he noticed a memorial photo of his former colleague on the reception counter.

My God, that's so sweet, Lopez thought.

"Jim was a gentle, kind and good man, through and through," Lopez said. "He'd go out of his way to help people – in his professional life and in his personal life."

Chelius was "a proud member of the Delaware Biking Blue Hens" club and he ran track while an undergraduate student at Villanova University, said a obituary.

On a Sunday morning, May 4, Chelius was riding in a right-turn lane on Daniels Parkway just east of Cross Creek Boulevard in south Fort Myers. Witnesses told investigators he rode into traffic while changing lanes. A car hit the rear of the bicycle, throwing him off. The driver, Denny Gordon Rager, was going below the 50 mph speed limit and was not cited, a Florida Highway Patrol investigation found. Chelius, who'd worn a helmet, had changed lanes unsafely, FHP concluded.

His law firm's online memorial page notes: "He left behind a loving wife, Jeanette, and two children, Jennifer and James."

Related: Rash of deadly bicycle accidents push leaders to act

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