Police: Man hit and killed in Pinellas Park did not use crosswalk, driver arrested for DUI

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – Pinellas Park detectives say a man was crossing in the middle of the street when he stepped in the path of an SUV Monday night.

Police say 70-year-old Donald Gardner was walking east across 49th Street North in the 8000 block, not in the crosswalk.

The SUV driver, identified as Jeffrey Hillhouse, was traveling at approximately 40 miles per hour in the median lane. Investigators say Hillhouse struck Gardner with his 2001 Ford Explorer.

Jeffrey Hillhouse

As a result of the crash, Gardner was transported to Bayfront Hospital and was later pronounced dead.

Hillhouse stayed on scene and was later arrested for DUI after he showed signs of impairment.

It was determined from the investigation that Gardner was crossing 49th Street illegally mid-block and violated the vehicle’s right-of-way.

Joto’s Pizza has been a staple on 49th Street in Pinellas Park for over 40 years. Owners Craig Manning and Sharon Obstaculo said they’ve seen a lot of crashes happen on this road.

“At least once a week on my way to work, there’s an accident,” said Obstaculo.

Last month, a St. Petersburg woman was also killed while crossing 49th Street near 88th Avenue. Witnesses said she was looking at her phone.

After numerous pedestrian crashes on 49th Street, News Channel 8 asked county leaders what’s being done to make the road safer for everyone.

“The cities actually have traffic control authority so they have the ability to add crossings, signals and modifications and stuff like that,” Tom Washburn with Pinellas County said. “We do work hand-in-hand with cities when we are made aware of a crash problem.”

Manning believes officials should come up with new ideas.

“Crosswalks or walkovers or whatever they are, so bicyclists can go across, pedestrians can go across and it would make it a little bit easier and a little bit safer,” said Manning.

Investigators will continue to work with the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office to determine if charges are warranted in this investigation.

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