Douglas Simpson, 64, and his wife Christina, 53, both of St. Petersburg, were traveling home from a Thanksgiving dinner Thursday night when 31-year-old Anthony Neeley of Seminole hit their Toyota Corolla in the right side, instantly killing them both. Neeley’s Porsche SUV was traveling at speeds estimated to be over 100 mph at the time and Saint Petersburg police said Neeley was drunk, with a blood alcohol level over the legal 0.08. Neeley had only minor injuries after rolling the Porsche several times.
Anthony Neeley, it seems, is no stranger to trouble. According to a report on wfla.com, Neeley has previously spent time in state prison for selling cocaine, driving unregistered vehicles, and grand theft. He has been arrested 16 times on a variety of charges, seven of those were for driving with a suspended or revoked license. Thirteen of those arrests were in Pinellas County and three were in Hillsborough County.
The holiday traffic crash involving the Simpsons happened at Central Avenue and 34th Street. Just minutes prior to this, Neeley is also reported to have hit a minivan driven by 67-year-old Marjorie Sutherland at Central and 58th Street. Sutherland said Neeley ran a red light and clipped the front bumper on her minivan. Neeley did not stop. Sutherland is grateful to be alive.
News anchor Stacie Schaible asked reporter Steve Andrews why Neeley, with all those prior charges, was still driving? Andrews replied that Neeley was driving on a “restricted” license, giving him the ability to drive back and forth for work purposes. He is currently facing DUI manslaughter, driving an unregistered vehicle, violating a “business only” restricted driver’s license, leaving the scene of an accident, and having no insurance.
The Pinellas County Traffic Court Records – Citations – 2013-2014 show the following statistics with respect to DUI, Criminal, Bicycle/Pedestrian, Moving Violation, and Non-Moving Violation citations (annual) for October 2013 through September 2014:
- DUI – 2,217
- Criminal – 17,099
- Bicylce/Pedestrian – 2,876
- Moving Violation – 68,390
- Non-Moving Violation – 29,340
As witnessed many times before, the families of victims will never be the same again. THINK before you drink and drive. THINK before you choose distracted driving over safe driving. If convicted, those charged with DUI manslaughter will most likely get a long sentence in prison. But it doesn’t end there for the victims’ families. The family also has the recourse of filing a wrongful death case against the one held accountable. If he had insurance, that could help the grieving family cover expenses. In the case of Anthony Neeley, who is said not to have had insurance and had so many prior arrests and convictions, what then? How can the victims’ family deal with the terrible and great loss, and have to come up with enough money to cover any expenses that aren’t paid for by some other means as well.
Time and time again, we see these senseless, needless tragedies. Not just on holidays but every day, you can be put in traffic situations that could turn deadly, quickly. Even when you prepare yourself and your vehicle the best you possibly can, situations can arise that are not within your control. When those occurrences happen, one resource you have is a personal injury attorney. We can’t change what happened, but we can try to ensure that justice prevails. We can’t bring back loved ones, but we can make the statement that someone else was negligent, at fault, acted recklessly, and at the very least, get compensation for loved ones to help with expenses caused by senseless acts.