When I inform people that a motorist rammed his car into me from behind on a quiet two-lane road in Florida, nearly claiming my life in March 2017, they ask, “What was the driver charged with by police?”
They assume there must be some type of negligent driving citation – especially when the motorist admitted to the deputy officer shortly after 8 a.m. March 7 that he didn’t see me in the roadway because he diverted his attention from the road to seeking his breathing inhaler in Chevy Cruze.
But the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office never issued a ticket to driver Dennis Brophy for slamming his car into me as I bicycled on a road in a small town called St. Lucie Village near Fort Pierce on Florida’s East Coast.
The anger and bitterness of a police agency not citing a motorist for hitting me with his car, causing two broken vertebra, a bad concussion (a helmet saved me) and a battered right leg helped fueled my motivation to write a book about the recovery and my return to Las Vegas to start a business-news website covering Las Vegas’ expanding sports industry.
I was back in Florida for my nephew’s wedding this past weekend. And I took the opportunity to also weave in book signings in Tampa and Vero Beach and make a pit stop off I-95 that I did not plan.
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision in my way to the airport in Orlando to drop in on the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office administration building on Midway Road, about 10 minutes east of the interstate.
I thought I would give a book to the sheriff with an inscription that asked for an apology for never giving a ticket to a motorist who nearly killed me.
I went to the information desk and I asked to talk with the deputy sitting behind the protective, transparent barrier.
Deputy Alex Feola left his chair and came around the information booth to chat with me in the sheriff’s office lobby.
Feola was polite and professional. He looked like a fit 50-something and was disarming in his talking style. He was also empathetic. He shared that he understood the pain of knowing what it’s like to be hit by a car and not receive justice.
The deputy said his niece was killed by a drunk driver in Martin County with the driver avoiding jail time with an insanity defense that he said he was bought by the judge. He noted the killer of his brother’s daughter ended up in a home in Port St. Lucie, the biggest city in St. Lucie County, which is about two hours north of Miami.
Feola, as it turned out, was also a former New Yorker. He was from the Bronx before moving to St. Lucie County some 35 years ago, while I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Florida to work for the Palm Beach Post to report on the city of Port St. Lucie in 1994.
I explained to the deputy that I don’t harbor a grudge or any sense of vengeance, but I would like Sheriff Ken Mascara to read my book and get back to me about why a distracted driver who smashed into me while I bicycled March 7, 2017 did not even receive a ticket for failing to pass a bicyclist by a minimum distance of three feet – which is law in Florida.
Feola had a calming presence about him and we chatted for about 15 minutes or so. It was a good conversation and I gave him my LVSportsBiz.com business card, which he tucked inside the book. I wrote my number on the business card and Feola said the sheriff may call.
He said I survived the crash to continue my work, while I offered my condolences for losing a niece who had her whole life in front of her at 23 years old.
It was a respectful conversation. But I wonder if I’ll ever hear from the sheriff.