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Miami Trolley Hits Man Trying to Retrieve Bicycle in Little Havana, police say. Are pedestrian deaths on the rise?

Any pedestrian crossing the street on U.S. 1 or trekking down the sidewalk on Kendall Drive during rush hour knows to remain vigilant. Drivers in Miami have been known to text behind the wheel, speed, take traffic laws as suggestions and honk when unnecessary. The joke that Miami’s distracted drivers don’t know what they are doing is shared among coworkers, friends and grocery store clerks alike with a disapproving shake of their heads.

 It is only when there is a horrific and violent crash that cannot be undone that the chuckling stops and people are reminded of just how dangerous the roads can be. 

What happened? 

On May 13, a pedestrian, identified in reporting from the Miami Herald as 60-year-old Dwayne Heywood, was hit trying to get his bike off of a bracket at the front of the trolley. Heywood was a passenger on the trolley and as he reached for his bike, the vehicle moved forward, hitting him. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash by firefighters and first responders. 

Details about whether the crash was due to a mechanical or operator failure were not immediately available. The driver of the trolley, which is owned by the City of Miami, is not employed by the city but rather a third-party transportation company, according to local news outlets. 

Leesfield & Partners was retained to represent another case involving another trolley, this time injuring a woman in Key West in 2022. The woman who was hurt was riding a trolley train with Conch Tour Train, a company that began operating tours in the area in 1958. The incident took place as the driver was making a turn wherein the trolley  went onto the curb and knocked down a stop sign. This jostled the compartment car where the woman was seated, causing her several painful and permanent injuries. This case is still pending and a jury trial has been set for August. 

Decades of representing families 

The investigation into Heywood’s death is ongoing but the tragedy sparks a renewed sense of urgency as it is eerily similar to stories heard repeatedly on the news in South Florida. Leesfield & Partners has worked cases like those of the two trolleys and those involving crashes caused by distracted driving, speeding and the flouting of traffic laws.  

An example includes that of a young boy who was hit by a speeding car after a school bus driver instructed him to cross the street. The boy was airlifted to the hospital and later diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury that he and his family still struggle with today. In 2021, after confirming that the bus driver, who violated state law by instructing the children to cross the street without ensuring the traffic in front of her had cleared and without proper visibility, Leesfield & Partners Trial Lawyer, Justin Shaprio, was able to reach a settlement for the child’s family above that of the driver’s limited liability insurance. 

In another bicyclist-involved crash, board certified attorney, Ira Leesfield, won a $5,350,000 settlement on behalf of his client. The bicyclist was on the shoulder of the Overseas Highway when they were hit by a distracted driver using the car’s GPS system. These are only some of the hundreds of clients that the law firm has represented over its four decades who have been seriously hurt or killed while out on South Florida roads. 

Statistics from the Florida Highway Safety of Motor Vehicles shows about 100 fatalities on the road in Miami-Dade County have taken place so far this year. Of the 20,880 total crashes in 2024, about 367 of those crashes involved bicycles. Seven bicyclists have been involved in fatal crashes this year. The report also showed that 27 pedestrians were killed on the road in 2024. 

Last year saw 362 fatal crashes, 21 of which involved bicyclists. In total, there were 101 fatal pedestrian-involved crashes. The numbers over the last several years show a steady death rate among bicyclists in Miami-Dade County which saw its lowest rate of bicyclist fatalities at 15. 

A graph shows the numbers from fatal crashes, pedestrian fatalities and bicyclist-involved fatalities from 2019 through 2023.

Numbers from the Florida Highway Safety of Motor Vehicles shows that there were 282 fatal crashes in Miami-Dade County in 2019. For that year, about 93 pedestrians were killed on the roads and 16 bicyclists were hit. In 2020, fatal crashes went up to 295 with 84 pedestrians killed and 15 bicyclist deaths. By 2021, the number of total fatal crashes had gone up to 352 with 95 pedestrian deaths and 17 bicyclists killed. About 292 fatal crashes took place in Miami-Dade County roads in 2022 with 94 of those people being pedestrians and 17 being bicyclists, the numbers showed. In 2023, there were 346 total fatal crashes with about 101 pedestrian fatalities and 21 bicyclist-involved fatalities.

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