Rick Fidanzato, owner of SWFBUD stores ABC Bicycles and Trek Store of St. Petersburg, sent me this email from a customer regarding an incident that involved a bicyclist getting mugged, injured and having his bike stolen from him while biking on the Pinellas Trail near 24th Street South between Tropicana Field and Gibbs High School.
Be alert and be careful in that area. I contacted the city of St. Petersburg regarding this case and safety along the Pinellas Trail.
Here is the email -- I did not include the identity of the e-mail writer:
Just wanted to give you guys a "head's up" regarding bike safety on the Pinellas Trail. About two weeks ago, my partner was riding his 28" Trek on the Pinellas Trail where he does his usual 10-mile up-and-back starting at about 24th Street South and the Trail around 6:00 pm. He was attacked/mugged by one or more unknown assailants who punched him in the eye causing him to fall off of his bike. He now has a massive concussion, a black eye, bruising and road rash down one full side of his body. The attackers took his bike and his iPhone which was attached in a pouch under his seat (which I had bought from ABC!). Unfortunately, he has no memory of the incident because he has suffered a 6-hour memory loss between the time before he left the house on his ride until he was transported home from the hospital late that evening. He has no memory of the attack, the ambulance or the hospital. Although he's pretty banged up, the doctors say he will heal, though the concussion symptoms will last for quite a while due to their severity.
I relay all this to you for a couple of reasons:
1. He was wearing his bike helmet, which literally saved his life. He must have hit his head pretty hard because the helmet cracked. We were probably looking at a guy in a coma if he hadn't been wearing it.
2. He was wearing a medical ID bracelet, which had an emergency # in it (his sister's). This was a major thing because when the ambulance got to him, he didn't know who he was or where he lived. Yeah, the concussion was that bad.
3. My partner is 6'3" and weighs 225lbs and he rides FAST on the Trail. If a guy that big can get knocked from his bike, then it can happen to anyone.
I used to think the Trail was "safe," but I'm changing my tune. The more we dug into incidents happening on the Trail it looks like the m.o. for these guys is to ride two-on-one-bike and then attack from behind with the extra guy taking the bike and riding off. We think the attack took place around 24th Street S. and the Trail, because that is where the ambulance arrived. We still don't know if Jim was attacked, and he walked to get help, or if someone found him there. In any event, the area between Tropicana Field and Gibbs has a lot of teenagers just hanging out, so best to tell your customers to stay aware.
Unfortunately, this is the second bike that's been stolen from him in 6 months. His first bike was stolen outside the library at USF-St.Pete: yes, it had an excellent lock (from ABC) on it! At this point, we'll probably just be sharing my bike because the expense of two lost bikes in such a short period of time is expensive for one household. It's a bummer.