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Did poor lighting contribute to fatal accident? | News

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Did poor lighting contribute to fatal accident?
News

St. Petersburg, Florida - Flowers mark the spot where Harold Charles Fleming Jr. was hit and killed. Early Sunday morning, Fleming was in his wheelchair and crossing 38th Avenue North when he was struck by a St. Petersburg police cruiser.

"I just felt terrible, terrible," said Fleming's neighbor Pat Diebold upon hearing of the accident. "He's been such a trooper, being paralyzed."

Officer Mehmedin Karic, 26, told investigators he didn't see Fleming, who was wearing dark clothes.  According to St. Pete Police, the street light at that intersection was not working at the time of the accident.

"A month ago that light went out," says Byron Boyne, who lives down the street. "I didn't report it, because I thought the people down there would."

To report a broken street light in Pinellas, you can call Progress Energy at 727-443-2641. It helps if you can give the company the number from a metal strip attached to the pole or an exact address. There's also a section on the company's website where you can do the same thing.

"96% of our lights are repaired within three days, so this is a priority for us," says Progress Energy Spokesman Rob Sumner.  "We want the area to be safe; we usually respond to these things fairly quickly."

That's the way it's supposed to work, but Boyne says it isn't always that easy. "They promised everything and did nothing," says Boyne, who last year reported a broken light across the street from his house.

Boyne says it took three calls and three months to get that light repaired.

"I called for the third time and told them if someone got killed out here in front of the house after two months of the lights being out, they were going to be charged with it, because they had done nothing and it's really dark in this area with the light out," Boyne said.

Sumner did not know the exact circumstances of Boyne's case, but says if repairs take longer than a few days, it's usually because something major is wrong with the fixture or some underground work is necessary.

As of Monday evening, Progress Energy could not say if anyone had reported the light at the accident intersection or if since the fatal accident it had been repaired.

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