Pedestrian in critical condition after being struck by car on I-75 in Manatee County
MANATEE -- A 77-year-old Lehigh Acres man suffered serious injuries after he was struck by a vehicle while crossing Interstate 75 southbound about 3:05 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Troopers were dispatched to the crash site at 3:12 p.m. and arrived by 3:30 p.m., according to the FHP website.
"There was a vehicle that broke down on the right shoulder," said FHP Sgt. Patrick Roberts. "There were two occupants in that car. One got out and was calling for help and the other one, I guess, saw a maintenance truck going on the shoulder."
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Roberts pointed his finger across the median toward the northbound lane.
"They tried to cross the street in front of traffic," the sergeant said of the male driver who was struck.
According to FHP master trooper Barbara Ehrhart at the scene, a 65-year-old Bradenton woman in a Lexus southbound on I-75 struck the male driver/pedestrian crossing the interstate.
Asked if the maintenance truck had responded to help the driver/pedestrian and his passenger, Ehrhart said she didn't know.
"We don't even know if they had anything to do with him," she said. "He was just looking for some help because his car had stopped working."
Ehrhart said the driver/pedestrian saw the maintenance truck and told his friend, the passenger, he was going to get some help.
"His friend said, 'No, no, no, no, don't get out. There's too much traffic,'" she said. "But he got out anyway."
Richard Almerico, 54, was driving southbound when he saw the man dressed in a brown suit and hat.
"The older gentleman was waving his hand in the air. He was trying to get somebody's attention," the Lutz resident said. "As soon as I passed him, he decided he was going to walk out into the interstate."
Almerico said he couldn't imagine why someone would try to cross I-75.
"Even the fastest runner wasn't going to be able to get across. I didn't think he would try and cross the highway like that," he said. "I was shocked."
The man was airlifted to Blake Medical Center and is listed in critical condition, according to FHP.
The passenger did not sustain any injuries.
"We went ahead and got the car operable again and he went ahead and he's on his way to Blake," Ehrhart said of the passenger.
Interstate 75 southbound reopened at 4:08 p.m. between State Road 64 and State Road 70 after being shut down little more than an hour.
Drivers were encouraged to use alternate routes.
"We're still investigating, but at this stage, we're not going to find any fault on the vehicle driver," Ehrhart said.
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, contributed to this report.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.