Longboat Key resident killed crossing Gulf of Mexico Drive

This SUV driven by Richard Sullo was the first of two vehicles to strike Warren Roberts as he crossed Gulf of Mexico Drive Tuesday morning. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

LONGBOAT KEY – Longboat Key resident Warren Roberts, 85, was killed the morning of Tuesday, May 8 after being struck by two northbound vehicles as he attempted to cross Gulf of Mexico Drive, near the Whitney Beach Plaza, south of Cedar Street.

The accident and ensuing investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol resulted in Gulf of Mexico Drive being closed for more than six hours at the north end of Longboat Key.

Southbound motorists leaving Anna Maria Island via the Longboat Pass Bridge were diverted back toward Bradenton Beach by Bradenton Beach Police and Longboat Key Police as they neared the shopping plaza.

According to the press release issued by the Florida Highway Patrol on Tuesday afternoon, a 2016 Hyundai Tucson driven by Palmetto resident Richard Sullo, 71, and a 2000 Mercedes Benz ML 350 driven by Longboat Key resident Cheri Zupa, 41, were both northbound on State Road 789/Gulf of Mexico Drive at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, with Sullo’s vehicle traveling ahead of Zupa’s vehicle.

Roberts was on the east side of the road and began to walk westbound across Gulf of Mexico Drive, moving into the path of Sullo’s vehicle. The front of Sullo’s vehicle then collided with Roberts. Roberts was propelled onto the roadway north of the point of collision and was subsequently struck by the undercarriage of Zupa’s vehicle. Roberts’ injuries were fatal.

No charges are pending against either driver and Sullo was transported to Blake Medical Center after the collision due to a medical condition.

“That’s so sad. All the turtle patrol walkers for that zone would see him walking the beach every morning. We are all saddened by the news,” part-time Bradenton Beach resident Betsy Sillars said.