Scooter driver killed in Clearwater crash

Image courtesy Clearwater Public Safety

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Drivers and pedestrians are very cautious when it comes to the intersection at Gulf to Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road.

Drivers like Rick Mannen said it’s prone to accidents. Clearwater police said Jerome Keith Smith, 56, died in a crash that happened at 1:45 a.m. at the intersection. Smith was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for life-threatening injuries and passed away around 5 a.m.

Investigators said Ronald Siggeman, 56, was driving a Sebring in a westbound direction on Gulf to Bay when he ran a red light. Siggeman’s car crashed into the scooter. The impact of the crash pushed the scooter into a third vehicle that was also traveling northbound on Belcher Road.

“I’m not surprised,” said Mannen. “There’s been so many accidents at this intersection.”

Mannen said he avoids the area whenever possible.

“When you live in this area, you see it all the time. Accidents are just common here. I’ve heard about it and everyone knows about it and it’s probably the deadliest intersection in this area from what I heard,” he said.

Detectives said Siggeman seemed impaired at the scene.

“They begin giving him a field sobriety test,” said Rob Shaw, with Clearwater Police Department. “He basically blows the red light, doesn’t slow, doesn’t stop, doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do and slams into this scooter which is then propelled into a third vehicle.”

Police said close to 300 crashes were reported at this intersection last year. Crossing guard Douglas Carey was hit and killed here in 2014. Police believe it’s not the roadway that’s unsafe, many times, it’s the driver.

“Yellow doesn’t mean gun it, and go 60 miles per hour. Yellow means slow down and use caution and red means stop,” said Shaw.

Florida Department of Transportation said they looked at the intersection and made several improvements since 2014. A road safety audit was conducted on all four corners. More than a dozen recommendations were made to improve safety for motorist and pedestrians.

Some additions include flashing yellow arrows. They were added to left turning lanes to caution drivers. And officials now monitor signal timing, especially around rush hour, when drivers are known to run red lights.

Siggeman is charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license in an accident involving death or serious injury. His bond is set at $5,000.

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