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Bicyclist Struck, Killed on Alt. U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor

The Fran Haasch Law Group

PALM HARBOR — A retired schoolteacher and father of three from Ontario was struck by an SUV and killed Wednesday night while riding his bike on Alt. U.S. 19. His death marks at least the 16th bicycle fatality involving vehicles in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties since July.

Michael J. McGowan, 62, and his wife were headed south on Alt. U.S. 19, biking home from a family dinner at Ozona Blue restaurant, when McGowan was struck about 9:10 p.m. McGowan was here visiting his mother, who winters at the Westwind Mobile Home Park. Each year, he helped her settle in at the park and then returned to bring her back home, said park real estate broker Dan Hintz.

McGowan retired last summer and had been staying with his mother since November. “He sure took good care of his mom,” Hintz said. He loved to play golf and rode his bike quite a bit, Hintz said. McGowan’s niece, Cassandra Hall of Vancouver, said her uncle was humorous, fun-loving and thoughtful. “He was always planning activities for us to do down here,” said Hall, 38, who was visiting McGowan’s mother, her grandmother.

Hall said her family was driving at a distance behind McGowan and his wife on Wednesday when they came upon the accident.

The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating, but the agency said McGowan rode into the path of a 2003 Isuzu Ascender driven by Christopher W. Painter, 55, as McGowan tried to turn left into the park. He had no lights on his bicycle, and he was not wearing a helmet, the FHP said. No charges have been filed.

Painter of Palm Harbor was transported to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with serious injuries, according to the FHP. On Thursday afternoon, he was in fair condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman. A funeral for McGowan will be held in Ontario.

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