Speeding involved in fatal crash, deputies say - FOX 13 News

Speeding involved in fatal crash, deputies say

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Katie Niedbalec is still in shock. Any minute, the 21-year-old expects her father will walk through their front door.

"I don't wish this on anybody. But I just wish it wasn't my dad. He didn't deserve it," she said.

Dr. Robert Niedbalec was killed Sunday afternoon around 1:45, as he rode his bicycle on Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River. He was in the bicycle lane.

Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office say two cars were driving a high rate of speed side by side as they drove down Fletcher.

Deputies say Cristina Perenzuela, driving a Ford 500, lost control and struck Niedbalec.

Katie said he would ride his bicycle nearly every day.

"That was his getaway. I'm going bike riding. And he'd go for a few hours," she said.

His wife Kathryn got worried after Robert didn't come home by early evening. She drove around and found the accident scene, and said deputies kept her away. She told them, if my husband is involved, I want to be there.

Katie now feels the same way.

"I wish I was there for his last breath. It's sad because I wasn't. I didn't get to say I love You. I didn't get to say anything. He was amazing," she said.

They talk about his love for the outdoors, bicycling, canoeing. He also loved Judo.

Glenn Nakamura, a Judo instructor and workout buddy of Roberts, says he was in great shape.

"He was tough. He was a very tough guy. He was a high-skilled player," Nakamura said.

Alan Snel says bicyclists are angry about this latest death.

"The impression among bicyclists is that motorists can get away with striking and killing bicyclists with very little criminal punishment," Snel said.

Snel is part of a group called SWFBUD, South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers. The group has been working with city and county leaders on bicycle safety measures.

"This has really struck a nerve for bicyclists. And bicyclists want to see justice at this point," Snel said.

He says it's a perfect storm of aggressive drivers, lack of knowledge of the rules of the road and limited bicycle paths.

But Niedbelac was in a bicycle lane. Skidmarks show the car swerved straight into the bicycle lane.

Niedbelac was a veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital. He's originally from Poland.

Katie is angry at the driver and wants punishment.

"You took my dad away from me. He won't walk me down the aisle. He won't be there for me. The two seconds of racing cause a lifetime of pain for me and my mom," she said.
 

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