TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — How do you get dangerous drivers off the road? Turns out in Florida, anyone, you, me, certainly law enforcement can request the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or the DMV to re-examine whether someone is fit to drive.
But one Tampa family says that help came too late for them. 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi is looking into why.
Records show as 26-year-old Cody Kurtz was riding his motorcycle on Aug. 27 when an 85-year-old driver pulled into his lane.
Cody was killed instantly.
His mother never forgets where she was, what she said, the last time she saw her child breathing.
Tammy Ferrer was in the kitchen. Her son Cody had to run an errand.
“He left and said that he was going to go for a ride,” Tammy recalled. “And he gave me a hug and a kiss and he said I love you mom, and I said I love you piggy, be safe.”
8 On Your Side obtained surveillance video from a business on 45th Street and Hillsborough Avenue. It shows a green car approach to make a turn. Seconds later, the car collides with Cody’s motorcycle.
Records from the Tampa Police Department show that police estimate Cody was going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone when the driver pulled into his lane.
Police alleged the driver “failed to yield the right of way.” It’s something police said at the scene, as heard on their body cam video.
“Looks like he pretty much pulled in front,” said one officer. “The motorcycle had to be moving, but it’s clearly… him pulling out.”
“Wow, that motorcycle must’ve been moving,” said a second officer.
“Yea, he was moving but at the same time, he still had the right of way,” the first officer added.
The officers were concerned the man may not be fit to drive. So, they reported him to the DMV by clicking “Yes” on the “Re-Exam” box. This act triggers a state review of the man’s license, potentially taking him off the road.
“He probably shouldn’t be driving,” said one officer in body cam video.
“Yea. Definitely … for a re-evaluation for sure,” responds the other.
But for Tammy, it’s too late.
“It’s horrible, my son is gone forever… there’s no words for that,” said Tammy.
“I want to get to the bottom of why the box wasn’t checked in May.”
8 On Your Side discovered it wasn’t the first time the driver reportedly made an improper turn. Police said he did the exact same thing at the same spot just three months before on May 10.
According to police records, he pulled onto Hillsborough Avenue and failed to yield. The other person involved in the collision was not seriously injured.
“I hit my head,” she told officers in body cam video obtained by 8 On Your Side.
Officers discussed the incident and the actions of the 85 year-old driver.
“It sounds like he violated her right of way,” one officer said.
Records 8 On Your Side reviewed show, police cited the 85-year-old for failing to yield, but they did not report him to the DMV. In the “Re-exam” box, they click “No.” That meant he could keep driving.
“The big red flag was in May, to get him off the road, because he was dangerous, because he hurt people,” said Tammy.
So, why wasn’t the box checked in May?
Tampa police say a re-exam “is requested at the officer’s discretion.”
Police focus on the “physical and mental ability” of the driver, their “eyesight, hearing” and “cognitive abilities in communicating the details of the crash.”
According to a Tampa police spokesman, in May, the driver didn’t display any troubling indicators, but in August, he did.
8 On Your Side reviewed the body cam video of both incidents. Below are parts of the exchanges between the driver and officers.
From the May 10 incident:
“Are you injured?” an officer asked.
“I have a headache,” the driver replied.
From the Aug. 27 incident:
“Do you feel any injuries or anything like that?” the officer asked.
“I got a headache,” the driver responded.
Another exchange from May:
“Well, technically, when you have somebody coming, and you can’t just jump right out in front of them like that,” the officer told the driver.
“No, no, no,” the driver responded. “She come 100 mile…80 or a 100 mile”
Another exchange from August:
“He come at a 100 mile. Then, he come in the center,” the driver said.
To Tammy, the incidents are identical.
She says Tampa police dropped the ball. And she’ll tell anyone who’ll listen, including the city council.
“In May, three months earlier, he did the same thing,” said Tammy, “In that incident, the officer or nobody checked the box on the citation.”
“We are here today to raise a red flag as a matter of public safety.”
Tammy wants this person to stop driving, but the process of taking away a license is a lengthy one.
8 On Your Side checked the DMV’s website on Thursday and the man is still allowed to drive.
In the meantime, Tampa police say this is still an open and active case.
Police have not yet issued any citations for the incident in August that resulted in Cody’s death. 8 On Your Side will be following this case in the coming days and weeks.
If you have a tip, question or comment for Mahsa, email MSaeidi@WFLA.com.