Death of Myakka motorcyclist inspires hope for change in law

rdymond@bradenton.comOctober 4, 2013 

MANATEE -- Annette Bernal doesn't want the July 25 death of her 35-year-old husband, Ernesto "Ernie" Bernal, on Betts Road in Myakka City to simply be one more 2013 motorcycle fatality in Florida.

Her sister-in-law, Diana Bernal, feels the same way.

So does Ernie Bernal's mother, Olga Rosier.

The three want to change Florida law to bring stiffer mandatory penalties, including jail time, for anyone who kills a motorcyclist on the road. All fatal traffic accidents are now researched by the agencies handling them and some are referred to the State Attorney's Office, typically when drugs and alcohol are involved.

But most fatal accidents without impairment don't result in jail time simply because they are considered accidents. Ernie Bernal's death apparently falls into that category.

Family and friends of

Bernal, who lived in the 35100 block of State Road 70, Myakka City, and was a maintenance worker for Sarasota County, have organized a "Rollin' For Ernie" Poker Run Saturday at Peggy's Corral, 4511 U.S. 41, Palmetto. The event is to raise money for college for two daughters family members say Ernie Bernal adored: Kloey , 8, and Kalie, 5, and to raise motorcycle safety awareness.

Ernie Bernal had a fierce dedication to Kloey and Kalie, family members said.

"The girls don't want daddy to be an angel," said Diana Bernal. "They want him here."

The cost is $20 per couple and $15 per person. Registration is 10 a.m. to noon.

The run begins at Peggy's, then heads to Woody's River Roo, Beef O'Brady's, Tink's, The Factory and ends at Ace's. Best hand pays $200 and worst hand pays $100.

Nicholas Daniel Solana of the 7700 block of 235th Street East, Myakka City, was traveling south on Betts Road north of Anson Acres Road about 4:20 p.m. July 25 in a 2000 Toyota Tacoma, according to the Florida Highway Patrol crash report.

Bernal, riding a black 2006 Suzuki GS500E, was going north on Betts Road.

Solana attempted to turn left into a private driveway near 30344 Betts Road and the front of the motorcycle collided with the right side of the truck. Bernal was traveling the legal limit of 45 mph, according to the report.

There were no skid marks left at the scene, according to the report. Solana was cited for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.

Solana's blood alcohol-level and urine were tested, and he was not suspected of using alcohol or drugs.

A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman on Thursday said the agency will review its records to see if any other charges are pending.

But the State Attorney's Office confirmed Thursday it isn't working a case involving Solana.

"Yes, I would like to get a law passed," Annette Bernal said Thursday. "I don't believe you should take someone's life and your life doesn't change a little bit."

"We believe he faces points on his license and a fine," Annette Bernal said of Solana.

A call to Solana for comment Thursday was not immediately returned.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7052 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.

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