Teen bicyclist survives crash at dangerous South Tampa intersection
TAMPA, Fla. - A teenage bicyclist survived, what witnesses said, could have been a deadly accident Friday morning at an intersection in South Tampa that's known by neighbors as a dangerous corner.
Cohen Wills told FOX 13 he was driving down South Lois Avenue, approaching Bay to Bay Boulevard and was driving right behind a teen on a bicycle.
"Three of the lanes were completely stopped. One was open, but there was no car coming," Wills said "So he went out and kicked off and started rolling through the sidewalk, and before he was able to get to the other side, another car just came driving down the street."
The car slammed into the bicyclist, knocking him several feet in the air, according to Wills, who added the teen wasn't wearing a helmet.
Witnesses feared the worst.
"Whenever he hit the ground, I mean, he didn't move for ten, 15 seconds," Wills said. "The way that he got hit, the way that it went flying and especially not having a helmet, I'm just thinking there's no way this kid's getting up. He's going to have to be wheeled out."
Wills told FOX 13 the teenager appeared to avoid serious injury.
This incident felt eerily similar to a crash in December that killed two Plant High School students who died after they were in an accident while riding a motorcycle at the same intersection.
RELATED: Plant High School student killed in car accident, second student hospitalized
"To have something again today it feels like it's a wake-up call [that] we really need to make a change," said Wills.
The City of Tampa and Hillsborough County made several safety changes at the intersection in the spring that, according to officials, were planned before the December crash.
Crews installed a crosswalk with rapid flashing lights across Bay to Bay, narrowed the lanes on Bay to Bay to reduce speeds, moved the crosswalks on Lois and installed stop bars before the crosswalks.
Street safety advocates, however, believe this latest crash shows once again that a traffic light is needed.
"Because there is a fair amount of traffic going both directions at this intersection, a traffic signal -- a full lighted traffic signal -- would be the best thing for this intersection," said Emily Hinsdale, with Walk Bike Tampa. "It's one of the few connector roads that go across the south Tampa peninsula. People can get up to very high speeds on this road because there aren't a lot of impediments to slow them down."
Hinsdale said she's worked with city leaders on this and several agree that a traffic light is necessary. Bay to Bay, however, is operated by Hillsborough County and the a traffic signal is currently not in the budget.
"I absolutely know that it will happen again one day. This was a more major crash here -- very fortunate that it was not a fatality," Hinsdale said.
"It's scary to know that could happen so close to home," added Wills, who has two young children. "That could have been my kid doing the exact same thing, riding their bikes on the way to school."
Meanwhile, Wills said the teenager initially declined medical attention at the scene and told those who'd stopped to help him that he wanted to continue heading to school. Witnesses said the teen appeared to have minor injuries, but the extent to which he was hurt is unknown.