MANATEE — “They wouldn’t stop.”
That’s what Jay O’Brien kept repeating as he sat on a sidewalk curb reliving a motorist’s worst nightmare Monday night.
O’Brien said he was traveling in his car, going north on U.S. 41 at 40 mph, just north of 53rd Avenue, when a man in a gray sweatshirt darted in front of his Honda Accord around 10:20 p.m.
Manatee sheriff deputies and Florida Highway Patrol were investigating the accident where a male pedestrian was hit several times.
“As soon as I saw him, I knew it was too late,” O’Brien said, tears rolling down his face and blood on his knuckles from his shattered windshield. “I couldn’t do enough. He was already on top of my car. I watched him roll off my hood.”
O’Brien, who was born and raised in Manatee County and now attends State College of Florida, immediately pulled off the road and walked out into U.S. 41, waving his hands as he tried to stop passing motorists.
“They wouldn’t stop. I saw three more people run him over,” said O’Brien.
Christine Wilson, of Bradenton, arrived moments after O’Brien, pulled off to the side of the road and joined him in trying to wave motorists to stop.
“We had to get out of the road,” she said, still shaking from the incident. “If we didn’t get out of the way they would have run us over too.”
Wilson said she sympathized with O’Brien because she too has had pedestrians dart in front of her while traveling on U.S. 41.
At 10:45 p.m., a red hat and shoe belonging to the unidentified victim still remained in the northbound lane of U.S. 41.
O’Brien received encouragement from one of the firefighters on site who told him to reach out for help in the accident aftermath.
“I’m angry because I could not swerve out of the way,” he said. “I never thought anything like this would ever happen.”