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Two men walking on S.R. 70 killed by truck

MANATEE — Two pedestrians are dead after being struck by a truck on State Road 70 early Friday morning, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

FHP Lt. Chris Miller said at about 3:25 a.m. the men were hit and killed on S.R. 70 at Mizell Road. Both were walking in the unlighted road when the 2000 Ford truck hit them, Miller said.

Troopers identified one of the men as Richard Keith Blanding, 23, of Sarasota, and the second man, believed to be 19 years old, had not been identified pending notification of family members.

Miller said a witness to the accident called 911 and emergency workers later called FHP troopers. The 18-year-old driver remained at the accident scene, Miller said. The Myakka City man will not be charged in the crash.

Investigators have not determined if the pedestrians were under the influence of alcohol, Miller said. The men were walking eastbound, with the flow of traffic, when the truck hit them from behind.

“The law says when you’re walking along the roadway you have to walk off the roadway,” Miller said. “You can’t walk in the street. Number two, you’re supposed to walk against the flow of traffic. These individuals were walking in the roadway, with no street lighting. It’s a very dangerous situation to be in.”

One neighbor, who lives just west of Mizell Road, said that when a pedestrian is walking on the side of S.R. 70 at night, it is hard to see that person. He added vehicles pass extremely close to anyone walking the shoulder of the road.

There is a 60 mph speed limit where the truck hit the pedestrians. Miller said that assuming the driver was going the speed limit, he would have been traveling at 87 feet per second. “If someone is in the roadway in the dark,” Miller said, “odds are you’re not going to see them until it’s too late.”

Some residents were shocked to hear of such news in their quiet neighborhood.

Dr. Louis Vodilla said he has lived just east of Mizell Road off S.R. 70 since 1977. “I’ve never heard of anything like this,” Vodilla said.

Miller said that if someone is going to walk near a street at night, wear brightly-colored clothing, use sidewalks and walk against the flow of traffic so that oncoming cars can be seen approaching.