ST. PETERSBURG -- A beloved 72-year-old school crossing guard died Tuesday afternoon in a wreck that police say was '100 percent preventable.'
David Roundtree of St. Petersburg had been setting up for his zone in the 4200 block of 9th Avenue North. around 2:30 p.m. near Mount Vernon Elementary School when he was struck and killed by an impaired driver. He had been a school crossing guard for three years, helping children on their way to and from school at Mt. Vernon Elementary School.
**Update: The Sun Coast Enforcement Charities has set up a bank fund and PayPal link for donations for Mr. Roundtree's wife and family. All proceeds will benefit his family and his companion of 22 years and family. The following statement from the charity was released:
“In memoriam, the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association wants to recognize Mr. Roundtree for the hero he was and has opened an account at Wells Fargo in the name of “Sun Coast Law Enforcement Charities (SCLEC) - David Roundtree Fund” Mr. Roundtree represents the true spirit of public service and providing for our community, and we hope his legacy inspires more to “answer the call to serve.”
To donate, click here.
Police said the driver -- 21-year-old Charles Hunter Walton -- attempted to flee the scene but was caught and charged with DUI manslaughter. Police suspect he may have been high on drugs, but are waiting on a blood test to confirm.
Police said Walton was driving a silver Toyota Scion westbound on 9th Avenue when it hit a pickup then hit Roundtree, hit a school zone sign and a small tree before continuing several blocks.
The neighborhood is also where Roundtree lives. Neighbors say they are fed up with drivers speeding down 9th Avenue North and not paying attention.
Police officers were out writing tickets Wednesday. SPPD Lt Edward Borrelli said, "It's frustrating. It is 100 perent preventable. This shouldn't have happened. But here we are."
Roundtree's widow, Mabel, tells us her husband handed out helmets to kids riding their bikes and gave out Christmas toys.
"He's a good man. He was a very, very good man," she added with tears in her eyes.
She added, "That driver took the love of my life. I can't believe it. I can't believe it. It's too hard."
St Pete police say the school zone on 9th Avenue is a big problem, with drivers routinely going 15 to 20 miles over the speed limit. They even busted one driver going 103 miles per hour on the same street.
Officers plan to step up enforcement.
More on school zone safety: