Sunday, March 8, 2015

Paths of peril: Tom West

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 Tom West's story.

Thomas L. West, 52

Crash date: March 14, 2014

Thomas West was killed while riding his bike in North Fort myers. Drugs and alcohol were found in his system. (Photo: Special to

While pumping gas at a Hess station on the corner of Brooks Road and Business U.S. 41 in North Fort Myers, James Hoskins caught sight of a bicyclist, pedaling fast down the dark street and wobbling as he rode.

"Then he just darted out," Hoskins said. "And I saw a pickup truck. And bam, he got hit."

Thomas L. West, the bicyclist, was thrown onto the hood of the blue Ford Ranger and then fell off into the road. He was wearing dark clothing. He had no lights on his bike. Toxicology tests indicated that at the time of the crash his blood alcohol level was .148. He also tested positive for drugs.

Hoskins called 911 and he and Bob Sweitzer, a friend visiting from Arizona, stopped traffic. Other witnesses went to West's aid, Hoskins said. The driver seemed in shock, and just sat in his truck.

West was badly injured.

"I'm a Christian and I prayed he would be okay," Hoskins said. "But in the back of my mind, I knew he wouldn't make it."

West died on March 20, 2014, six days after he was hit.

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