Holmes Beach adds safety signs at S-curves on heels of pedestrian fatality

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Looking northwest on Gulf Drive, emergency workers attend the crash of an SUV that struck two pedestrians, William Timmins, 79, who was injured, and his wife, Marion Timmins, who was 80, and was pronounced dead at Blake Medical Center. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer is taking steps to improve road safety after the first pedestrian fatality in the city since 2013.

The “recommended” speed limit of 25 mph is now “mandatory” at the accident site in the 5600 block of Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, Tokajer said.

“I’ve already spoken to commissioners, and they are in agreement this is a minor change and that I should not wait,” he said.

Reduced speed signs — mandatory 25-mph limits — are posted.

Two solar-powered warning signs are on order to be posted at all five Gulf Drive S-curves in the city, including the site of the fatal accident.

The lighted signs will flash the message: “Warning. Watch for Pedestrians.”

Tokajer received approval to spend $13,000 on the new signage.

While on the way to the beach Jan. 24, an 80-year-old Canadian woman and her husband were hit by a white 2016 Chevy Suburban.

Marion Timmins died the same day at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.

Her husband, William Timmins, 78, required surgery but has been released from the hospital.

The visitors from Thorold, Ontario, were crossing Gulf Drive north of Guava Street about 2 p.m. when they were struck by the SUV, according to Holmes Beach police.

There is no crosswalk at the location, but there is beach access on the west side of Gulf Drive.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to educate the public to use crosswalks and let vehicular traffic know to use the proper precaution for the possibility of pedestrians crossing in the wrong area,” Tokajer said.

Despite precautions, Tokajer said, accidents happen.

“This is a vacation destination and people on vacation sometimes have a vacation mindset,” he said.

Tokajer said a crosswalk would not work where the fatality occurred because of limited visibility.

“We are looking at locations in that general area, but not on curves,” he said.

Any new crosswalks will be outfitted with push-button warning signs, he said.

“But that’s got to be in more of a straight-away path,” Tokajer said. “That’s in our plans.”

Tokajer called the crash a “tragedy” and emphasized no one was legally at fault for the crash.

The driver, Tracey Thompson of Anna Maria, and her 7-year-old passenger were uninjured.

Thompson was not ticketed. She told police she saw the couple at the last second, but could not stop in time to avoid hitting them.

“We are not putting blame on the driver or the people crossing the road,” Tokajer said.

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