TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- A local motorcycle safety group is speaking out after a Pinellas County deputy was killed in a motorcycle crash Friday.
They say these tragedies are happening far too often.
"I hear the same stories over and over," says Jim Gladstone, president of West Coast ABATE of Florida. "The driver made a left hand turn, and a motorcyclist was coming the opposite direction."
Sadly, the death of Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Shoulta is the most recent loss due to a motorcycle crash in Tampa Bay. On Friday, Shoulta was riding his motorcycle while off-duty on Seven Springs Boulevard in Pasco County. As he headed southbound, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, a driver turned left toward a gas station and directly into Shoulta's path.
"There is no sense that can be made of such a tragedy and no words that can make this easier on anyone," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a statement.
This follows the death of 26-year-old Justin Carpenter on April 9. He was riding his motorcycle on U.S. 41 in Bradenton when a car turned left in front of him.
And on April 23, 28-year-old Bradley Williams was badly injured on Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota when a car turned into the path of his motorcycle. In that case, FHP cited the car's driver for violation of right of way.
In cases like that, Gladstone says it's sad to see motorcyclists injured or killed with sanctions as simple as traffic tickets.
"It kills us. It really does. It eats us up," he says. "We're mothers, we're brothers, we're sisters, we're neighbors, just like anybody else."
But colleagues at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office say Shoulta was truly unlike anyone else. "I smile on behalf of Jason because he had an endless smile as he walked the halls in our agency," Capt. Teri Dioquino said.