A recent pedestrian versus vehicle accident proved to be a fatality for one person when an elderly married couple was struck by a vehicle while crossing Estero Boulevard at a crosswalk near Bay Beach Lane on the south end of Fort Myers Beach.
At 6:19 p.m. on Monday evening, Ohio residents Robert and Ann Bandy, ages 82 and 76 respectively, were crossing the boulevard from the beach side to the bay side.
According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, the crash investigation revealed Indiana residents Jimmie and Shirley Imel were traveling northbound on the boulevard in a Dodge Grand Caravan when the vehicle struck the Bandys. Both pedestrians were transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where Mrs. Bandy later died.
Police records disclose Mr. Imel, age 80, was said to be driving about 25 MPH when he saw the Bandys in the crosswalk, but was unable to stop in time. He was cited for violation of failure to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Town officials who live nearby Bay Beach Lane confirmed the accident was more than just a minor infraction. There was also confirmation about a helicopter in the area at the time of the accident.
"The information I received indicated that, unfortunately, a pedestrian was fatally injured," said Beach interim Mayor Alan Mandel, a resident in that area.
Local Planning Agency's Al Durrett, who lives in the same neighborhood as Mandel, said he heard a helicopter touch down on the Beach and then rise again.
"My wife and I were on the patio watching the flashing lights, and then we heard the helicopter go by. We knew someone was seriously hurt," he said. "My neighbor told me a couple was walking back to their condominium after watching the sunset."
The incident happened on the eve of the Town Safety Committee's workshop, an advisory board that Durrett serves on. Road safety for pedestrians and bicyclists has been the top priority for the recently formed committee. Speed and improper street lighting have triggered officials to seek solutions to that area.
"I would like to see the speed limit cut back from 35 to 25 MPH from the (Church of the Ascension) Catholic church to Bay Beach Lane during Dec. 15 through the end of April. The second thing is Estero Boulevard needs to be lit up far greater than it is now," Durrett said at the workshop.
"We need additional safety measures. I want to see something done at the south end sooner than later. Things that were promised last fall are still not done," he added when reached by phone.
This makes at least the third pedestrian to lose their life or suffer a serious injury near the same area on the Beach in the past 10 months.
On April 18, 2012, a visually impaired woman was struck by a vehicle while crossing east to west at a crosswalk near Holiday Inn on the Beach at the 6800 block of Estero Boulevard. Beach resident Josephine Kastner, age 81, was using a cane to help her cross the road at a crosswalk and was transported to a local hospital via Med Flight with serious injuries. She lived but suffered many broken bones.
On March 9, Mary Ann Hechimovich, age 67, was struck by a vehicle while crossing Estero Boulevard towards Santini Marina Plaza and died at the site. She was the final member of her family to cross the street (albeit not at a crosswalk) on the poorly lit boulevard at night.
"Something needs to happen here on the south end of Fort Myers Beach to calm the traffic on the boulevard during the (tourism) season," said Durrett. "This time of year, people are just going out to dinner when the sun is falling."
An update will be provided at www.fortmyersbeachtalk.com when available.