On December 22, 2019, Sophia Nelson, a twelve year old girl, was crossing State Road A1A by using a mid-block crosswalk in Satellite Beach, Brevard County, Florida when she was hit by a car and killed. Brevard’s wrongful death law firm, Alpizar Law, has been hired to represent the Nelson family to investigate this tragic incident and has been working in conjunction with the family to shed light on the dangers of these mid-block crosswalks. A mid-block crosswalk is a pedestrian crosswalk that is placed on a roadway that is not at an intersection. A pedestrian presses a button to activate small flashing yellow lights for the vehicles on the roadway. In their current state, these mid-block crosswalks are dangerous and create serious confusion betweeen pedestrians and motorists. For several years prior to the incident involving Sophia Nelson, this same confusion had led to pedestrian injuries and deaths around the state of Florida. This exact type of confusion is what led to the Nelson family experiencing the unimaginable.
On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the Nelson family is sharing their story with the Florida Legislature. Following Sophia’s death, District 53 House Representative Randy Fine filed House Bill 1371 which, if enacted, will be a critical step in significantly improving pedestrian safety in Florida.
If passed, HB 1371 would mandate how mid-block crosswalks can be installed involving roadways that have more than two lanes or a speed limit in excess of 35 miles per hour. Under this criteria, all non- compliant mid-block crosswalks would have to be replaced with a traditional red light signal for vehicle traffic activiated by a pedestrian and synced with a designated walk signal for the pedestrian (such as the HAWK beacon system), or otherwise remove the flashing yellow lights altogether. State Road A1A, where Sophia Nelson was killed, has four lanes and currently a speed limit of 45 miles per hour and would result in modification under this Bill.
The Bill has been filed in recognition of Sophia Nelson, and Representative Fine is planning to rename his bill “Sophia’s Bill” in her honor and memory. This Bill was presented to the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on January 28, 2020, where it passed unanimously. It was next presented to the Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee on February 12, 2020, where it passed unanimously. The Representative Fine will present Sophia’s to the House State Affairs Committee on February 20, 2020 beginning at 8 a.m with Nelson Family addressing the committee during the meeting.
Senate Bill 1000, which is a companion bill to House Bill 1371, was filed by Senator Keith Perry, District 8 on November 19, 2019, and co-introduced by Senator Debbie Mayfield, District 17. It was presented to the Infrastructure and Security committee on January 27, 2020, where it passed with a vote of 6-1. It was presented to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development where it passed unanimously.
Alpizar Law encourages everyone to educate themselves on the dangers of mid-block crosswalks, and to contact their local Representative and Senator to share their support for #SophiasBill designed to fix the danger to pedestrians, residents and visitors to Florida so that no family has to experience what the Nelson Family is going through. If you have any questions or would like additional information or commentary, please direct all communications to David Alpizar at Alpizar Law, LLC.