Neighbors say stretch of road sorely needs safety improvements after cyclist killed

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

A beloved cyclist was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver last weekend, and the reward is up to $6,000 to find the person who killed her.

Debra Purcaro, 64, was cycling along North River Road in Alva when she was killed, and people who live on that road are fed up with how dangerous it can be.

“It was bad. I saw the one on the road,” William Canada said. “It’s not my first one. I mean, that probably isn’t going to be the last out here.”

Cyclist Cristin Madden was also hit and seriously injured in the crash.

“Surprised? Not really,” Tony Woodham said. “Hurt? Yeah, because it’s something that just probably didn’t have to happen.”

“You just don’t see any police action here, and all the local people know that,” James Raia said. “So they don’t. The speed limit means nothing.”

Ria used to love riding his motorcycle, but ended up selling it because of how dangerous he says this roadway is. It’s a similar story for others here.

“My wife used to try to ride her bicycle out here and it was like, ‘Don’t do this,’” Woodham said.

Woodham now drives his wife and her bicycle to a nearby park.

Neighbors say people pass in areas where they’re not allowed, and on top of that, there isn’t a bike lane or shoulder to pull onto.

“I’ve talked to deputies. I’ve talked to highway patrolmen,” Canada said. “They said they can’t do nothing until they’re told, you know. So somebody needs to tell their boss, ‘Get on out here. Get it done.’”

The cycling group the two women were riding with, the Caloosa Rider’s Bicycle Club, says their bicycles are equipped with cameras and that evidence was sent to troopers.

“For God’s sake, you know, say, ‘Hey, look, you know, this is what happened,’” Woodham said. “To run off is almost an admission of guilt.”

The bicycle group plans to hold a memorial at the site of the crash Sunday morning to honor Purcaro’s life and her passion for cycling.

WINK News asked troopers about the video that was turned over, but they said they couldn’t release anything at this time.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the FHP also didn’t respond to questions about extra patrols in the area.

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