East Manatee residents voice safety concerns after fatal crash on State Road 64
EAST MANATEE -- Residents of the GreyHawk Landing community say it was inevitable there were would be a tragedy, after a 73-year-old Bradenton man was killed while trying to walk across State Road 64.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the crash occurred at 8:21 a.m. Tuesday near the intersection of Greyhawk Boulevard and State Road 64, east of Interstate 75. The crash blocked the westbound lanes for several hours.
According to the report, 18-year-old Elizabeth Joann Ganim of Fort Myers was westbound in the left lane on State Road 64 approaching the intersection of Greyhawk Boulevard.
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John Hughes Frye was standing in the center grass median facing north on State Road 64 west of Greyhawk Boulevard.
FHP troopers said Ganim failed to see Frye, and Frye failed to see Ganim when he walked into her path and was struck on his right side.
Only Ganim's parking lights were on, troopers said, and she was charged with careless driving.
"It's been an accident waiting to happen for years because it's so dangerous now," said Lorna Smith, a resident of GreyHawk Landing. "There's so much more traffic with all the building that's going on along State Road 64. ... and it's just time that they put in a light. It's going to be so awful when it gets to the summertime and those orange trucks are breaking the (speed) limits."
Smith, who has lived in the community five years, said traffic is much worse than it's ever been. A light, she said, is "long, long overdue."
"We are studying this intersection right now during the tourist season," said Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Robin Stublen. "There is, as you know, a plan for either a signal or a roundabout on State Road 64 and Rye Road that's moving forward."
The draft of the study being conducted on the intersection of Greyhawk Boulevard and State Road 64 should be completed in March, he added.
"Keep in mind it was extremely foggy today. We had low visibility everywhere and there were reports up and down our major arteries of low visibility," Stublen said, adding there were multiple serious crashes Tuesday. "When it gets foggy like that, sometimes people can't see the signal lights. It was a dangerous situation for everyone."
According to Florida Highway Patrol Master Sgt. William F. Pascoe, fog was a contributing factor to the fatal crash.
"There were some visibility issues with fog this morning," Pascoe said.
In response to neighbor concerns about speeding vehicles, Stublen said: "We can't stop people from speeding. We're not a law enforcement agency."
Scott Jacuk, who has been living in GreyHawk Landing more than a decade, said he was shocked when he heard about the crash.
"Like Lorna said, it was kind of an accident waiting to happen," the 50-year-old said.
Erica Mulder, a 39-year-old small business owner and GreyHawk Landing resident, said she heard about the fatal crash from a social media group for the community.
"I think the accident this morning, this poor man's death, was completely avoidable," she said. "I hope that, if anything good can come out of this, is just that it gets the attention of the people who can make a change for us."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.