Memorial Causeway in Clearwater is a beautiful place to enjoy an early morning bike ride. Unfortunately in September 2013, Robert Lemon and Hillary Michalak, of Largo were killed while riding their tandem bike along the causeway in the predawn hours. Press reports indicate the couple was doing everything right, wearing helmets and using bike lights. Regardless, Christopher Weed struck them from behind and then drove away after the crash without offering help or calling for emergency responders. He was later identified and charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, a felony in Florida.
This week, Weed appeared before Circuit Judge Nancy Ley and entered a guilty plea. He will be sentenced to 11 years in prison followed by three years of probation. At the hearing, the prosecutor related evidence that Weed had been drinking before the accident. A civil suit against Weed is pending.
Leaving the scene of an accident is all too common in Florida. It is a selfish act, done by someone looking out for their own best interest with no regard for the lives of those left behind. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident with injury try to avoid facing the financial responsibility they’ve caused or are afraid of being charged with a crime.
It’s fortunate for the families involved in this tragic case that the driver was later identified and charged. When a driver never comes forward or is identified, it compounds the loss suffered by the injured and their loved ones who are left with no closure or explanation for how the crash occurred.