Driver in Bradenton fatal parking lot crash ticketed for 'improper backing'

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 5, 2014 

The Chevrolet Tahoe SUV involved in the church accident that killed three and injured four ended up in a canal after the driver lost control of the vehicle. RICHARD DYMOND/Bradenton Herald

MANATEE -- Florida Highway Patrol on Wednesday cited the driver of the Chevrolet SUV who killed three pedestrians and injured four in an accident in a Bradenton parking lot Sunday.

Doreen Landstra was cited for "improper backing." Under state law, a driver "shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic."

Landstra, 79, was ordered to appear in court and if she is found guilty of the non-criminal violation, she could be fined $1,000 and have her license suspended for six months, the mandatory punishment in cases whethere is a fatality, according to state statute.

The accident happened about two and a half years after an incident in which Landstra accidentally drove her vehicle into a McDonald's restaurant in Michigan.

On July 28, 2011, Landstra was pulling her 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe into a parking space at a Michigan restaurant when she slowed, and then hit the gas instead of the brake, colliding with the building, according to a crash report supplied by the Bath Township Police Department.

Damage to a railing, glass and part of the McDonald's restaurant building was listed as a result of the incident, the report said.

The date on the front page of the police report for the McDonald's accident was listed as July 28, 2009, but a records custodian at the police department said the year was wrong, and that the accident actually occurred in 2011.

No citation was issued in connection with the Michigan incident, the report said.

On Sunday, Landstra, 79, was navigating out of a space in a church parking lot in Bradenton when she accidentally backed her 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe -- it wasn't clear if it was the same vehicle as in the Michigan accident -- into a group of people nearby.

Three died, and four were severely injured at the Sugar Creek Country Club 55-and-older mobile home community in Bradenton.

Landstra thought she had put her SUV into drive, but when she revved the engine, the vehicle went backward and struck people standing and talking with each other in the parking lot, according to witnesses and a Florida Highway Patrol crash investigator.

Efforts to reach the Landstra family for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twittercface fontname="Roman" naxe="0" iaxis="0"/>

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