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A 63-Year-Old Woman Cycling Up U.S. 1 Is Killed in Collision With SUV Near Belle Terre

| July 10, 2013

What remained of the bike. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

What remained of the bike. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

A memorial for Deborah Dunn will be held on the beach in the Hammock on July 30.

Deborah I. Dunn, 63, was killed Wednesday evening as she rode her bicycle on U.S. 1 just south of the intersection with Belle Terre Boulevard when she was struck from behind by a Nissan pick-up. Dunn was pronounced dead at the scene by a Flagler County Fire Rescue paramedic at 7:05 p.m.

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She is the second cyclist killed on Flagler County roads this year. Three motorcyclists have also been killed, and several cyclists have been critically injured on various roads.

The circumstances Dunn’s death Wednesday evening were similar to those that led to the death of Frederick Martinez, the 51-year-old Flagler Beach resident killed on State Road 100 on April 3: both cyclists were inside the white-lined shoulder, and both were struck by oversize vehicles swerving into the shoulder. Both were killed in broad daylight.

A Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene said Dunn was riding north, as was Leila Gould, the 30-year-old driver of a black Nissan pick-up truck, who was driving with her husband Bodie Opel, 34, and two young children, toward west Bunnell. The investigator said at some point, for unknown reasons, Gould’s SUV served briefly past the paved shoulder and into the grass, leaving fresh, black tire marks that the investigator was able to collect from the grass there, then back onto the shoulder where, a few feet north, the collision with the cyclist took place. (The children were taken away from the scene by a friend or relative about 45 minutes after the collision.)

Impact left clearly visible gashes made in rough parallel lines into the pavement by the rim of the bicycle and its pedal crank. The gashes were in the center of the narrow shoulder lane often used by bikers, though unlike the actual bike lane on State Road 100, the shoulder on U.S. 1 is not a bike lane.

Dunn was on an older purple and black Huffy Stone Mountain bicycle. She was struck from behind by the front right end of the pick-up, which was severely damaged. Dunn’s head struck the bottom right of the front windshield, causing a deep cavity there. She was either catapulted or dragged a long way before her body fell to the ground, almost 150 feet from the point of impact. Investigators said she had no chance, and likely never knew what struck her. She was not breathing when police and paramedics were called to the scene.

The Palm Coast Fire Police closed both lanes of U.S. 1 northbound for a one-mile stretch south of the intersection with Belle Terre. Traffic on U.S. 1 southbound was not affected. All lanes reopened at 9:36 p.m.

Dunn had been riding her bike in part because her driver’s license had been revoked. A native of Kentucky, she had a home in Sarasota, and though FHP listed an address for her in Jacksonville, where she’s never had a house, she was, in fact, staying with her son in Palm Coast, on Kaywood Street. She was only a few blocks from her home, returning from the store, when she was struck. She had one son, she had raised her sister’s children as her own, and she had two grandchildren.

Gould voluntarily submitted to a blood test, but was not believed to be under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, and was not on prescription medication, an investigator at the scene said. A Fire Rescue unit returned to the scene around 9 p.m. to conduct the blood test.

The violence and consequence of the impact could be glimpsed from the debris and various items that fanned out like shrapnel from the point at which the victim was struck: scattered sheets of last Sunday’s News-Journal surrounding the twisted bike, a right-foot, black and white sneaker 20 feet north from the bike, well into the grassy shoulder, the left sneaker some 30 feet away from its twin in the opposite direction, on the pavement, several shards of plastic and glass from the front of the pick-up, a Diet Coke bottle, an empty beer can, more newspapers,  and finally, at a distance from the bike equivalent to that between two utility poles, the body of the victim, in the grass on the east side of the road, wrapped in a white and yellow tarp.

The medical examiner had arrived at the scene at 8:15 p.m., and removed the body by 9 p.m. John’s Towing removed the bicycle and the Nissan pick-up truck shortly afterward. The investigation continues, and charges are pending.

The passengenr-side front of the Nissan SUV was demolished by the violence of the impact with the cyclist. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The passengenr-side front of the Nissan SUV was demolished by the violence of the impact with the cyclist. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The impact of the victim's head on the windshield. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The impact of the victim’s head on the windshield. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

An FHP investigator examined the point of impact on U.S. 1's shoulder, where fresh gashes traced the trajectory of the bike after it was struck. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

An FHP investigator examined the point of impact on U.S. 1’s shoulder, where fresh gashes traced the trajectory of the bike after it was struck. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

(© FlaglerLive)

(© FlaglerLive)

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39 Responses for “A 63-Year-Old Woman Cycling Up U.S. 1 Is Killed in Collision With SUV Near Belle Terre”

  1. alice says:

    God bless the victims soul.

    • Anonymous says:

      she was a friend and realy did not get to meet her yet my heart goes out to doug and his wife. wish we could of got to know her. sorry doug, we love y

  2. Florida Native says:

    Prayers for this woman and her family. The Twilight Zone stretch of US1 takes yet another life. Sad and baffled.

  3. Jason says:

    Prayers to all involved.

  4. Realty Check says:

    Distracted driving is a huge problem on roads today

  5. This is so frustrating and senseless. Something has to change.

    Additionally I do not see where the person on the bicycle having had their licenses revoked as important or relevant to this issue.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Heather, the detail is relevant and important: it points to the fact that Ms. Dunn was riding because she was respecting having had her license revoked, not because she was necessarily out there riding for pleasure. The detail is indicative of how necessity and hardship places people in certain situations that, for all their efforts to respect the law, still prove fateful.

  6. The Truth says:

    One accident is one too many. My thoughts and prayers are with the victim, her family and the driver of the vehicle. Please drive safe everyone and be cautious.

  7. FedUp says:

    Palm Coast needs to create and build an “inner sidewalk” away from traffic that allows bicyclists to travel safely between areas. The “GANGS” of spandex people roaming the roads in large groups and riding 3 or 4 abreast OUT into the streets and highways HAS GOT TO STOP or more people are going to die !!!!!

    • Rick says:

      Not only that but then there’s the ones around town that have a complete & total disreguard for rules of the road. I, personally, have come close to clipping these bone-headed bicyclist. They, with no indication what so ever, swerve from one side of the road to the other or completely ignore traffic lights & signs.
      Of couurse this poor lady was at the time not doing either, just riding where she should be minding her own business. Sad.

    • san says:

      First of all a bicycle is considered a vehicle under Florida statutes and are required to follow the same rules as automobiles. Second, drivers are way too distracted by talking and/or texting on cell phones as well as driving way too fast on the roadways. People need to put the cellphone down and slowdown. There is a law that motorists must leave 3feet od space between their vehicle thevehile of the bicycle when passing.

    • Wheelchair cyclist says:

      The problem is one to many a flagler driver treats a bicyclists as if the have the same amount of safety that a car provides. Almost everyday I see cars pass by bikes with no concern as to the safety of the biker. Common sense dictates that you allow some space when passing a biker not honking or swearing at the rider. I don’t think most drivers who do this or act this way realize that their vehicle is a deadly weapon and when used with careless ignorance and or spite towards the rider are putting not only the ride at risk but their own freedom that may be lost from pending criminal charges. Look 1 death is to many, 1 hit and run to many, Palm Coast needs to step up a public awareness campaign on TV, papers, and even electronic signs. They have the same problem with cross walks in region. People, cyclist and pedestrians come first and because your five minutes late for something is no justification for taking a life. Oops I didn’t mean to run over the bike is not an answer. It’s is time for the MAYOR to step up and make sure the citizens of Palm Coast are aware and obeying the rules of the road. Bike paths are not the answer to the problem it’s the drivers. To all cyclist out there do not assume you are safe or have been seen by a vehicle because in Plam Coast you are a target of careless or distracted drivers. Always wear a helmet and use a flashing red tail light that is said to reduce collisions by 80% during daylight hours. “Look twice” does not only apply to motorcycles.

      • Magnolia says:

        @ Wheelchair cyclist: One other thing…you must WALK your bike when you are crossing a street. Most people don’t know this. And this is where many biking accidents happen.

  8. Seminole Pride says:

    Once again, driver’s error. Inside white lane belongs to cyclist. Law states that when passing a cyclist you MUST pass outside of 3 feet.

  9. grb says:

    You would not catch me riding a bike on any major road around around here….period. You are putting your fate into drunk/distracted/etc. hands. I shake my head when I see someone riding along the road when there is a sidewalk…(I’m talking to you riders on Colbert lane, A1A, etc.) Yes, you have a right to be there, but why would you roll the dice? Prayers to that soul.

    • Anonymous says:

      ….perhaps, because it is illegal for a cyclist to ride on a sidewalk, and they will get ticketed? Not to mention, then you have pedestrians who will bitch the opposite: “Why aren’t you riding on the road, where you belong?”. How about drivers do what they’re supposed to–pay attention and drive in a safe manner?

      • Geezer says:

        I’ve seen MOPEDS on sidewalks here and have yet to see a ticket issued.
        Besides, a ticket is cheaper than a coffin. Use a sidewalk when you can.

        Bicyclists are no match for distracted or aggressive drivers in a hurry to go nowhere.

        Take it from me. A soccer mom in a Honda Odyssey almost terminated me the other day
        while I crossed Belle Terre (walking my bike across). She as looking right at me
        but the cellphone against her ear was taking up most of her available brain cycles.
        It’s as if I was invisible that afternoon. She just had to get to Target, even if it meant making
        a waffle out of me. She missed me by millimeters–the vacuum created as she buzzed me
        almost knocked me over for the next guy in a white F-150, who accelerated as he watched
        me stumble and struggle to balance myself!

        This is what people have become–selfish, and uncaring dopes. Hence the rising death toll in town
        due to careless accidents. Turns out that bicycling may not be so healthy for you!

        If we could just harness all the stupidity in town and use it for power.
        We’d never pay an electric bill again!

      • really? says:

        Look up Florida State Statutes regarding bicycles. They are allowed on sidewalks as long as they are human powered. Additionally the peds wouldn’t bitch if the bicyclists had a bell to warn they were approaching. And on the other side, peds should also be courteous. Whatever it takes to lessen the number of fatalities.

  10. HRH says:

    This is my neighbor’s mother….my heart is so heavy from them. Both have lost their Mom’s this year and this tragedy only escalates their pain.

    Please pray for the family of Deborah. They will feel your prayers….

    RIP to a Mother and Grandmother…she will be missed.

  11. notasenior says:

    It is time the courts send a message to drivers and impose long sentences!

    • Sunbeam says:

      I can’t stand it! “Charges pending”!!!!!!! The truck driver killed a person. It’s vehicular homicide. Period!

      • theresa says:

        my brother freddy was mentioned in this article, he was killed in march–the driver had to pay $666. no justice, i hope this family gets justice!!

      • really? says:

        its not vehicular homicide unless there was a criminal element involved such as reckless driving. very tragic yes. however if not criminal i would agree with perhaps a 1-5 year license suspension.

  12. Marissa says:

    No speeding enforcement what so ever here in Flagler. Red light cameras do nothing to stop speeding. As soon as the red light changes to green the lead foot is on the gas. We need speed cameras not red light cameras.

  13. MFMO says:

    Police should check drivers cell phones and/or cell phone records to see if they were on the phone at the time of the accident. If so, they should be charged appropriately for such negligence.

    • elizabeth cabana says:

      This was my aunt i love her and i pray her soul rests in piece. i love u aunt debbie. i agree with the polica checking phones to see if they were texting. the woman and her husband could have been Arguing it also could have been an accident. theres alot of possibilities. for those of you who want to sit and talk bad about someone riding a bike u need to mind ur own business. my aunt didnt have a liscense and she had just as much right riding tht bike as u do driving she did no wrong in this situation. dnt stick your nose in an emotional situation when u dnt know wht the hell ur talkin about. may my aunt rest in peace and her son wife and kida morn in piece the family will be there soon i love you all

    • really? says:

      you need a warrant for that and that isn’t an easy process. secondly, our state legislature in their infinite wisdom made cell phone use a secondary offense. i think cell phone use that causes injury or death should be criminal however a traffic stop for use be a points violation. my .02

  14. Why says:

    Use bike paths people. There is far too much traffic and impared drivers on the road to risk your life on a bicycle. Quite often if drivers aren’t texting and playing on phones, they are drunk or high. My heart goes out to the friends and families of those involved.

  15. brian says:

    flagler county drivers of cars, cycles and bikes are the worst i have ever seen..yechhhhhh

  16. this is BS says:

    I think the whole State of Florida should be sued because of where they put the bike lanes! Why not give them 10 ft? Look at all that unused grass! it’s just BS. Life is precious.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Was she wearing a helmet?

  18. Ashley cook says:

    This was my grandmother who was killed.. She loved being active & riding her bike everywhere, she was on her way home after getting her favorite drink, diet coke, & a newspaper.. She was riding with trafic not against traffic she was riding in the grass, it was the drives fault she shouldn’t have swerved. She should have been paying attention to the road & the pedestrians around her.. This doesn’t ever seem true… It feels just like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from, she was my best friend. R.I.P my beautiful angel<3

  19. Magnolia says:

    So sorry, Ashley. Your grandmother is now in your heart forever and she will be with you where ever you go.

  20. jp says:

    should be a mandatory loss of license of 10 years for drivers who cant pain attention and kill someone!

  21. Dr. Tony T. Cummings says:

    The tragic death of cyclist Deborah Dunn is an all too familiar occurrence on the streets and highways of the state of Florida. As motorists and bicyclists are made to share these increasingly congested roadways, we (as a community) must make every effort to increase public awareness of the hidden dangers to bicyclists who lawfully ride these lanes every day. By stepping up enforcement of existing laws on the books that are designed to reduce the likelihood of these tragic encounters, perhaps we can dramatically decrease the frequency in which these seemingly avoidable accidents occur on our roadways.

    A greater respect for our follow bicyclists is the key to safer roadways for everyone in our state.

    —God bless Deborah Dunn and her entire family.

    Dr. Tony T. Cummings
    Candidate for Sheriff 2015

  22. jennifer says:

    what about the poor girl who has to live with this accident for the rest of her life. that is why they are called accidents. my thoughts and prayers are both with the victim but also with the family who this unfortunate accident happened to as well. Leila and Bodie my thoughts and prayer are with you too.

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