BONITA SPRINGS, Fla - The cycling community is outraged after one of their own is left in a hit and run accident in Bonita Springs. According to Lee County Sheriff's reports, the woman behind the wheel was given a Notice to Appear Criminal Citation for Leaving the Scene with injuries.
It happened Saturday morning at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Arroyal Road in Bonita Springs. Ciro Crespo of Bonita Springs says he was riding with 25 other cyclists in the Estero Flatlanders Saturday morning. They were 28 miles into their ride, heading west on Pennsylvania Avenue when all of a sudden he was hit from behind and thrown from his bike.
"All of a sudden I'm on the hood of the car," says Crespo. Crespo says the group of cyclists were turning left on Arroyal Road when a car attempted to pass the bikers. The driver saw another vehichle coming from the opposite direction and swered to avoid a head on collision.
A Lee County Sheriff's report says it was 70-year-old Catherine Turner of Bonita Springs that hit him and sped off. When Turner swerved right she struck Crespo causing him to roll onto the hood of the vehicle and then on the ground. "I'm lucky to be alive to fight this now because if I was dead, this lady would be off with just a citation," says Crespo.
Several of the riders were able to get her tag number and a description of her car, but deputies only interviewed on witness. "It scares me because there's a lot of road rage and someone blatently hits you with your car and takes off? What do they have to do? Kill someone? It's still a hit and run," says Liz Featherstone of Naples.
Deputies tracked Turner down. A LCSO spokesperson says although Turner was not locked up in jail, the notice to appear for leaving the scene is an arrest and Turner will have to face a judge.
"She should have been arrested," says Michelle Avola, Executive Director of the Naples Pathway Coalition. "We don't understand why this driver would hit a cyclist, know she hit a cyclist and leave the scene of the crash and the only thing that happens to her is a summons to appear in court about leaving the scene of the crash."
After hearing about the accident, Avola and the Naples Pathway Coalition got involved. "If a cyclists life isn't any more important than a garbage can on the side of the road, I have a huge problem with that," says Avola.
Avola reached out to the Lee County Sheriff's Office and set up a meeting for Wednesday afternoon in order to find out why deputies didn't do more as far as interviewing witnesses.
A LCSO spokesperson says the charging deputy has discretion and took into account the age of the driver, the fact the bicyclist suffered relatively minor injuries and was treated and released, and the determination that the driver was not a threat to society.
Avola says the way they handled this situation sends a bad message. "What that message sends is hey drivers, don't worry about bicyclists and pedestrians, they're not your problem, they're just like a road hazard," says Avola. "We want to investigate how they handle these situations. If the message comes from the top down that we'll have zero tolerance, maybe we'll see some changes in motorists behavior.