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Highway Patrol looking for answers after parking lot tragedy

HMost of us know from firsthand experience behind the wheel just how treacherous parking lots can be. In addition to fellow motorists racing to grab a prime parking spot or keeping their eyes more focused on the rows of cars than the road ahead, drivers must also contend with tight spaces and obstructions littering the roadway.

It's important to understand, however, that parking lots are often not just treacherous for motorists, but pedestrians as well. Indeed, pedestrians also have to contend with inattentive, speeding or otherwise negligent drivers. Furthermore, when an accident does occur, the damage goes well beyond just a cracked bumper or scraped paint.

To illustrate, consider a recent tragedy in the parking lot of a Florida retirement community that left several people dead and others seriously injured.

This past Sunday morning, seniors in an otherwise sleepy retirement community located 45 miles south of Tampa gathered for a church service held in their development's clubhouse.

According to sources, the parking lot outside the clubhouse filled with people when the service finished at 11 a.m., with many of them either getting into their cars to leave or forming small groups to chat.

It was at this time that a 79-year-old woman driving a large sport utility vehicle suddenly lost control when backing out of a handicapped space and accidentally ran over a group of seniors standing nearby.

A preliminary report from the Florida Highway Patrol reveals that the woman attempted to back out of the space but then pulled forward again to gain clearance around a parked vehicle. When she put the SUV in reverse a second time, she somehow lost control, sending it flying backward over a group of assembled elderly pedestrians before jumping the curb on the opposite side and stopping in a canal.

Sadly, the accident left three people dead and four others hospitalized with serious personal injuries.

While the highway patrol has ruled out alcohol as a factor, it is continuing to investigate what exactly happened. Indeed, it will need to determine whether potential mechanical issues and/or driver error were to blame.

Stay tuned for updates ...

If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident or fatal motor vehicle accident, consider speaking with an experienced attorney to learn more about your options.

Source: The Tampa Bay Times, "SUV crash kills 3 after church service in Bradenton," William Levesque, Feb. 2, 2014

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