The driver of a tractor trailer accused of striking and killing an East Naples bicyclist will not face criminal charges in the case.
There is not enough evidence to say that Jon Price, 59, of North Naples, knew that he struck Robin Wallace, 48, according to a Florida Highway Patrol Traffic Homicide Investigation report, but the 18-wheeler he was driving for Oakes Farms, 2205 Davis Blvd., did run her over,.
“The combination of physical evidence and the established timeline clearly identify (it) as the hit-and-run vehicle,” the FHP report by Cpl. John Benton states.
FHP officials were not available Monday to comment on the report.
Earlier this year, Price was cited in connection to the crash for failure to obey a traffic control device because there is a sign on Estey Avenue that says trucks weighing more than 1 ton are not allowed to travel there.
“He should not have been out on that road,” said David Bianchi, a Miami-based attorney who is representing Wallace’s husband, John Wallace, in a civil lawsuit against Oakes Farms.
Bianchi praised the FHP findings.
“It now makes it crystal clear that we have sued the right people,” Bianchi said.
Alfie Oakes, owner of Oakes Farms, said he has not yet read the report himself. He called Bianchi an “ambulance-chasing attorney.”
“I think he’s definitely suing the right person because it’s probably a lawn truck that hit her (that) probably doesn’t have $3 million of insurance,” Oakes said.
Wallace was riding her bicycle on Estey Avenue on the morning of Sept. 29 when she was hit near the Embassy Lane intersection.
The mother of two died on the scene. Passers-by found her crushed body on the side of the road.
It was several days before Price was linked to the crash, which authorities investigated as a hit-and-run because the driver left the scene.
There were no eye-witnesses at the time of the impact. Benton said in the report that nearby surveillance video placed the Oaks Farms rig on Estey Avenue near the possible time of the crash, and that a bloody track mark from the scene matched the tires of the tractor and trailer Price drove that day.
The FHP investigation determined that Wallace somehow “fell in front of the right side tires of the (Oakes Farms) trailer and was run over” though none of her blood was found on it.
None of Wallace’s blood was found on the trailer and the report states that could be because the trailer had traveled to North Carolina and back to Naples before it was inspected, which means evidence could have been destroyed or washed away.
Price told investigators that he did not see a bicyclist on Estey Avenue when he drove the road the day of the crash.
“(Price) further stated that he did not feel anything which would have led him to believe that he ran anything or anyone over; however he did state that he did feel the numerous speed bumps that he traveled over on Estey Avenue,” the report says.
Bianchi, who said he will continue to pursue the civil case against Oakes Farms, said Price should have seen Wallace from his high vantage point in the truck cabin.
“Including the lady riding the bicycle along the edge of the road,” he said.
Oakes said he sympathizes with the Wallace family’s loss, but maintained that his driver was not to blame.
“If I felt for a minute that our truck was involved, I would help them go after the full amount,” he said.
Bianchi said all of this has been terrible for the Wallace family.
“I have never met a husband who has been more devastated by the loss of his wife than Mr. Wallace. It has destroyed his life,” Bianchi said.
Staff reporter Jessica Lipscomb contributed to this report