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Bicyclists’ deaths lead to lawsuit, jail time for Florida man

Eleven years in prison plus three years' probation is the sentence for a Florida man who pleaded guilty to charges that he left the scene of a car accident that killed a man and woman. Panama City residents often hear news about bicycle accidents and drunk driving. In this case, they allegedly united with tragic results.

An early morning jaunt on a tandem bike was how the cycle-shop manager and his girlfriend started their day in September of last year. They were riding on Clearwater Memorial Causeway when the accident happened. The defendant was accused of slamming his pickup truck into the couple. Landing about 50 feet apart after the impact, both required hospitalization. The man, 25, died the same day. The 27-year-old woman, comatose, passed away about three weeks later.

Claiming he blacked out after the accident, the 30-year-old driver turned himself in to police the following day. He had reportedly been driving home after his shift at a local hotel and restaurant supposedly known as a party hot spot.

It will likely be some comfort to the victims' families that the man is being held criminally accountable for his actions that day. But in addition to that, survivors are entitled to seek compensation that can help with expenses and other financial needs related to a collision.

Florida law also allows for the possibility that the hotel can be held liable if it's proven the employee was allowed to leave the premises while intoxicated. Reportedly, a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the woman's family naming the driver and the hotel as defendants.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Clearwater man receives prison sentence in bicyclists’ deaths" Laura C. Morel, May. 19, 2014

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