A Florida Gulf Coast University student was killed recently in a Fort Myers car accident, making him the 75th person to die on Lee County roads in 2016. The 20-year-old student was killed on Michael G. Rippe Parkway, near the intersection of Briarcliff Road, shortly before noon when his passenger vehicle was rear-ended by a dump truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
WINK News reported the victim, Ryan Wendler, had been an Eagle Scout who worked at Moe’s Southwest Grill while earning his degree in sociology at FGCU. He had recently started volunteering at a local soup kitchen and Meals on Wheels. Authorities say he was stopped at a red light when he was struck by the truck, driven by a 75-year-old man from Cape Coral. Investigators are exploring whether speed might have been a factor, and charges may be filed depending on the outcome of that investigation. It’s not clear which company owned the dump truck, but it should be noted that companies can face vicarious liability for the negligence of an employee who was either working at the time of a crash or driving a company vehicle off-the-clock.
The 74th traffic fatality in Lee County happened just a couple of days earlier, when a Punta Gorda man reportedly suffered a medical event before losing control of his vehicle while traveling northbound on I-75 just north of Daniels. The News-Press reported the vehicle, a Cadillac DeVille, drifted off the shoulder, through a wire fence and then slammed into a sound barrier wall and numerous trees. The driver of that vehicle died after he was transported to Gulf Coast Hospital Medical Center, though it isn’t clear if that was the result of the underlying medical condition or due to injuries sustained in the wreck.
So far this year, The News-Press reports the number of traffic deaths in Fort Myers and Lee County are about even compared with 2015. There were 75 traffic deaths in the county last year as of Sept. 17, 2015.
Unfortunately, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, 2015 marked one of the most substantial upticks in traffic accidents we’ve seen nationally in some time. That year, there were nearly 36,000 people killed on U.S. roads, which marked a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. To put that into perspective, that’s 2,615 additional lives lost in car accidents, as well as the biggest percentage increase the country has had in five decades. The largest increase that’s been reported was from 1965 to 1966, when there was an 8.1 percent increase in traffic deaths.
Additionally, the number of people injured in U.S. car accidents has increased significantly. Where there were 2.34 million people injured in crashes in 2014, there were 2.44 million injured in traffic accidents in 2015. The number of police reported crashes (not just those resulting in injury or death) were also up – 3.8 percent – from 6 million in 2014 to 6.3 million in 2015. The federal safety regulator reported there was no one area that accounted for this major increase as all types of traffic deaths were up – pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, large truck accidents, nighttime accidents, bicycle accidents, bus accidents – virtually every statistic.
Part of the issue is that vehicle miles traveled was up 3.5 percent, which was the largest increase we’ve seen since 1992. That is likely due to an improving economy and lower gas prices.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
FGCU student killed in Lee County wreck, Sept. 20, 2016, WINK News
More Blog Entries:
Vicarious Liability of Vehicle Owner May Be Asserted in Florida Car Accident Lawsuit, Sept. 15, 2016, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog