Well-known bicyclist latest victim of hit-and-run in SWFL

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Debra Purcaro, 64, of Fort Myers, was hit and killed while riding her bike in Alva on Sunday. (Courtesy photo)

A bicyclist and grandmother was killed and another injured Sunday in a hit-and-run in Alva.

Debra Purcaro, 64, of Fort Myers, was well-known in the cycling community. Posts remembering Purcaro are flooding biking groups on Facebook, and a memorial stands on North River Road where she and another cyclist were struck.

That memorial was placed across the road from another sign for cyclists that says “Respect our lives.”

Purcaro loved being a mother, grandmother and cyclist. She was out for a ride Sunday morning with a friend when a driver struck the two and fled the scene.

“How do you even wrap words around that?” asked Lt. Greg Bueno with the Florida Highway Patrol.

Every hit-and-run stick with Bueno. Despite every warning, every memorial, every death, too many drivers keep going, knowing they’ve hit someone.

“The thing that is alarming, if you look at the 91,000 hit-and-run crashes statewide last year, we had an 18% increase in the amount of hit-and-run crashes involving deaths still. So that was on the rise, which again is crazy to even try to comprehend someone could strike a person and then leave and not call 911 and potentially save someone’s life.”

Purcaro was an active member of the Caloosa Bike Club. Her friend survived the crash but was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

“How do you not help someone in a tragic crash or a tragic accident? We as a community can certainly do better. If you see something, say something,” Bueno said.

He said bicyclists have rights on roads. If you’re a driver, you have to look out for them so a tragedy doesn’t happen again.

If you know anything about the crash, call *FHP or Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS.

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