Two bicyclists seriously injured in Key crash


Two bicyclists seriously injured in Key crash


Date: August 25, 2010
by: Robin Hartill | Community Editor


Two bicyclists were injured and transported to Bayfront Medical Center via Bayflite helicopter after a vehicle struck them Saturday.

According to a Longboat Key Police Department report, around 8:40 a.m., Cristi Eslinger, 45, Regina Bonynge, 46, and Harry Hammond, 52, all of Sarasota, were riding in the southbound bicycle lane of Gulf of Mexico Drive and Outrigger Lane when they were hit by a 2008 Mercedes-Benz driven by Milton Comer, 81, of Longboat Key. The report states that Comer was driving northbound on Gulf of Mexico Drive when “for (an) unknown reason,” he crossed into the southbound lane. Eslinger and Bonynge sustained serious injuries.

Hammond was not injured.

According to Longboat Key Fire Rescue Interim Chief Paul Dezzi, one woman had a fractured wrist and a possible head injury, while the other woman suffered possible injuries to her lower extremities.

A hospital spokeswoman confirmed Monday afternoon that both women remained hospitalized in fair condition.

Comer was cited for careless driving, and police submitted a request for a driver’s license re-exam.

The incident was the second accident in two weeks in which a Bayflite helicopter responded to a bicycle accident on Longboat. The earlier crash occurred Aug. 7, when Steven Paley, 48, of Sarasota, approached the intersection of Gulf of Mexico Drive and Bay Isles Parkway on his bicycle and hit the brakes abruptly, causing the bicycle to flip. According to Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle, Paley has since recovered and retrieved his bicycle from the police station.

Hogle said that bicyclists can stay safe by being aware of their surroundings.

“You should have a mirror on your bike and be looking over your shoulder,” Hogle said.

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According to Longboat Key Fire Rescue Interim Chief Paul Dezzi, bicyclists can stay safe by following these tips:
• Always wear a helmet.
• Don’t ride against traffic.
• Ride your bicycle near the right-hand edge of the road.
• Always use turn signals when making turns or stops.
• Look out for cars at cross streets, driveways and parking places.
• Use caution when checking traffic, and don’t swerve when looking over your shoulder.
• Wear brightly colored clothing to stand out to drivers.

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Currently 6 Responses

  • 1.
  • I just need to comment that I did not just "abruptly" pressed my brake levers and flipped my bike for no reason.

    I was traveling at 25mph in the bike lane and chose to brake to avoid a car that was certain to have hit me broadside. As an experienced cyclist with years of riding, pressing teh brakes abruptly is generally not something I or other experienced cyclists do.

    Luckily, I will make a relatively full recovery and other than major facial surgery, dental restoration and two minor broken bones in my back, I was unscathed.

    I do think that cyclists take the bike lanes on LBK for granted and given the average age of motorists and the large number of driveways on the key, cyclists really need to be careful. It's really wishful thinking to ask motorists to drive more carefully, especially on LBK.
  • Steven ` Paley
    Sat 4th Sep 2010
    at 11:55am
  • 2.
  • On October 31, 2009, I was struck by an (alleged) drunk driver and seriously injured on LBK - the woman careened into the bike path (in case people haven't realized this, the sidewalk stops and starts). There were no brake marks at the scene ... she clearly never saw me and never made the attempt to stop. I was wearing light-colored clothing, reflective gear, and running *without* an iPod (in fact, I don't own one). The police had the gall to let her go without so much as a ticket and reprimand me for running on *their* key. As an aside, I sued - and won. So much for my accident not being 100% her fault (which *her* insurance company admitted).

    The tone of the article is tragic, placing the responsibility on the cyclists in a senseless way. They should be looking over their shoulder ... as opposed to in front of them (i.e., the direction they're travelling)? How about reassessing whether this elderly man should be on the road in the first place? Ridiculous.
  • Brooke Butler
    Fri 27th Aug 2010
    at 1:35pm
  • 3.
  • This article really minimizes the horrible pain and suffering these women are going through and seems to blame the bicyclists. I'm glad that the Observer saw the opportunity for a PSA people would pay attention to, but it falls short of what is needed. Please use your journalistic powers to inform motorists of how they can be more aware of cyclists, what signals cyclists use, when you shouldn't drive a car, etc.
  • Lizz Pugh
    Fri 27th Aug 2010
    at 8:54am
  • 4.
  • These ladies and other riders were adhering to all laws and were being vigilant of their surroundings and safety by wearing bright clothing, helmets, gloves, etc. I understand mentioning the other bicycle report, but a guy who flips his own bike due to pressing the brakes too hard??? versus a head on collision where a senile driver crossed over and significantly changed the lives and mindsets of these ladies is tough to draw similarities. The mirror is insignificant and an insult to both of these situations.

    The safety tips shown at the end of the article are all great rules and mandatory in our groups.

    Thank goodness the ladies and all others involved are going to recover.
  • Kelevra Dreznin
    Thu 26th Aug 2010
    at 5:19pm
  • 5.
  • I must say, that I thought this article did not properly express the incident that occurred. These women were riding in a group, there were more than 3 riders, but the 3 mentioned were the ones hit. The woman, Regina, who you quoted the fire rescue officer as sufferring from "possible injuries to her lower extremities" had both her legs & pelvis broken. She had compound leg fractures.. so indeed, it was "possible" she had injuries to her lower extremeties.

    I find it terrible that the article is ended with the quote by Hogle “You should have a mirror on your bike and be looking over your shoulder"... I'm not sure how this would have helped these women who were riding in a group, in the bike lane and were hit HEAD ON!

    More education and awareness needs to be given to motorist to help them be aware and prevent accidents. This particular gentleman who caused the accident was ill & had been seeing a doctor.. instead of driving himself he should have called a cab and then these women, mothers, wouldn't be in the hospital facing months of recuperation along with multiple orthopedic surgeries.

  • Christina Holmes
    Thu 26th Aug 2010
    at 3:19pm
  • 6.
  • Seriously?! Is this all you have?! Now maybe you could tell us; did the women have helmets on that were hit? Maybe your next article could be on why we don't require exams a lot more often once we hit a certain age.
  • Melissa Hirstein
    Thu 26th Aug 2010
    at 2:10pm
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