2 Monday accidents snarl Manatee County traffic

acastillo@bradenton.comMarch 25, 2014 

A blend of rain, beachgoers and baseball watchers created traffic gridlock in two spots Monday afternoon.

Two unrelated accidents shut down traffic along west and east routes between Manatee County beaches.

A Jeep Wrangler crash in the early afternoon on the Anna Maria Island bridge shut down the causeway for more than an hour. A dispatcher for the Florida Highway Patrol described the crash as a "vehicle versus a guard rail."

The Jeep driver, 20-year-old Essence Shakira Crum of Bradenton, was ticketed by the Florida Highway Patrol for failure to use due care on wet roads.

Crum's crash left her vehicle in a precarious position.

"They're basically trying to secure the vehicle so that it doesn't go over the side," said Lt. Greg Bueno of FHP on Monday afternoon.

FHP diverted westbound traffic toward the causeway starting at 75th Street West while it secured the vehicle. Elmer's Automotive Services then towed it from the scene.

In another collision, the Bradenton Police Depart

ment reported an accident along the eastbound lanes of the 5500 block of Manatee Avenue shut down traffic from 59th Street West for about 15 minutes before the road reopened.

Linda Holmes, a restaurant employee at the Anna Maria City Historic Pier, said heavy seasonal traffic carries dangers.

"Traffic is definitely out of control," the 67-year-old said, urging people to drive defensively. "Be aware of bicycles and people who are walking. You've got to spin your head around in all directions to be safe."

Mechanical designer Scott Clements and his father-in-law, Mike Wisnefski, visiting from Wisconsin, compared traffic at home with Anna Maria Island's traffic.

"Where we come from, traffic is heavy," 51-year-old Clements said.

"This ain't nothing!" his father-in-law added.

Clements did mention some trouble he and his retired father-in-law experienced on the road Monday. Before they got onto Manatee Avenue, Clements said a driver behind them was rear-ended.

"I thought we were next," he said.

Kristin Barr, a teacher visiting Anna Maria Island with her sister, had similar traffic sentiments. She said the island pace is much slower, but she has noticed traffic is heavier.

"I think just knowing that it's spring break, we expected it," the 39-year-old said.

Justin Sauveur, a shift manager at Two Scoops ice cream parlor, said more law enforcement could help ease the traffic.

"What I have noticed is whenever there's a police officer helping to guide traffic, it helps a lot," he said.

Sauveur doesn't think traffic will affect business in the area.

"The speed limit is 25 mph around here anyway, so you can only get somewhere so fast," he said. "If you're bumper to bumper, you're going about 5 mph."

Amaris Castillo, crime reporter, can be reached at acastillo@bradenton.com.

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