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Attorney for Biker Dragged Through Intersection Files Notice of Claim Against County

By Jessica Lipscomb, Naples Daily News
March 22, 2012

Collier County – The attorney for a Naples bicyclist who was struck and dragged underneath a county-owned trailer last month filed a notice of claim against the Collier County Commission asking the county to accept financial responsibility for the accident.

In the notice filed Wednesday, attorney Theodore Zelman alleges the driver did not maintain a 3-foot distance from bicyclist Elayne Jackson and engaged in careless driving when he proceeded through the intersection. The driver, Jerry Mac Blackwell, 52, of Bonita Springs, is a county employee who was driving a county vehicle.

The Feb. 29 collision sent Jackson, 45, to Lee Memorial Hospital in critical condition. She is recovering from a fractured knee, a severed liver, three broken vertebrae, nine broken ribs and a broken collar bone, among other injuries.

“We heard from witnesses people were honking all the way,” Zelman said. By continuing through the intersection after striking Jackson, the driver “made her injuries worse.”

“We’re looking for the county to take responsibility for the accident and seeing that Elayne’s medical needs are met,” Zelman said.

Jackson was stopped between the through lane and the outside left turn lane on Vanderbilt Beach Road as she waited to turn left on U.S. 41 North, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. Blackwell was driving a Ford F350 in the through lane, pulling a trailer.

As Blackwell began to move through the intersection, Jackson and her bicycle became caught underneath the trailer’s tires. Troopers later measured a 229-foot trail of blood in the intersection.

The collision can be seen in a low-resolution YouTube video posted March 15 by American Traffic Solutions, the company that runs the county’s red-light camera program.

From a camera pointed southwest, the pickup and its trailer are shown moving through the intersection, pausing halfway and then continuing forward. A dark fuzzy object, presumably Jackson, can be seen underneath the trailer’s rear tire.

Zelman said he believes it is the only video recording of the collision.

Although several vehicles are seen in the recording, only a handful of drivers have given a statement to the FHP or Zelman. Of the two witnesses listed on the FHP’s report, “neither saw too much.” Zelman said.

Attempts to reach county attorney Jeffrey Klatzkow and Collier Commission Chair Fred Coyle were unsuccessful Thursday.

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