TAMPA (FOX 13) - No ticket and no charges have been filed for a driver who hit one of the most well-known bicycle safety advocates in Florida.
Alan Snel is recovering from injuries received in an accident on March 7. During a routine bicycle ride around 8 a.m. from his home in Vero Beach to Fort Pierce, Snel was hit from behind by driver Dennis Brophy, 65, of Fort Pierce.
Snel said his body was thrown onto the car's windshield before hitting the pavement. The back of his helmet was crushed in the crash.
"I don't remember being hit. I don't even remember being treated or transported," said Snel. "I would have to say the helmet saved me, at the very least, from getting a brain injury. Worst case scenario, I would have been killed without the helmet."
According to the police report, Brophy told an officer he was inhaling a breathing treatment at the time of the accident. He gave several other reasons for what may have caused him to crash into Snel.
"This motorist came up with a grab bag of excuses. I was sleepy. I was taking a breathing inhalator. There was a blinding flash of light. I just didn't see the motorist," said Steele Olmstead, Snel's attorney and president of the Florida Bicycle Association.
Brophy was not given a citation in the crash, due to a lack of evidence showing he intentionally hit Snel.
Snel said his accident is yet another example of authorities and state lawmakers not being aggressive enough with punishing motorists who hit or kill bicyclists. Florida is ranked first in the nation for bicycle fatalities.
"Florida is going to continue, regrettably, facing these kinds of issues, because the collective political will just isn't there. There's a lot of lip service. There's very little action," said Snel.
Attorney Olmstead said in addition to representing Snel, he is working with the Florida Justice Association to get mandatory bodily injury insurance required for drivers. Florida is currently a 'no fault state,' meaning each person involved in an accident must pay for their own medical treatment, regardless of who is at fault.
Florida Senator Kathleen Passidomo, (R) Naples, has also reintroduced the "vulnerable road users" bill (SB 432). Under the bill, motorists could face a second degree misdemeanor, revoked license and a fine of no less than $1,500 if they injure a vulnerable road user.
If the bill passes, Snel might not be in Florida to see it take effect. In a recent blog post, Snel announced that the accident was the last straw for him.
Snel wrote, "It's time to leave Florida. It's an outrage that a careless, inattentive motorist can slam into a bicyclist without any legal culpability and citation." He is considering a move back to Las Vegas, where he said rider safety is a bigger priority.