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Elderly driver backs over 7, killing 3, after church in Florida

WFLA-TV

An investigator and a bystander at the scene of an accident that killed three elderly women Sunday in Bradenton, Fla.

An elderly Florida woman is unlikely to face criminal charges after she backed out of a parking space into a crowd of pedestrians, killing three senior citizens, authorities said Monday.

Doreen Landstra, 79, of Bradenton, Fla., lost control of her Chevrolet Tahoe sport-utility vehicle after church late Sunday morning at Sugar Creek Country Club, the state Highway Patrol said.


Landstra began backing out of a handicapped parking space but then pulled forward to negotiate another parked vehicle, the Highway Patrol said in a statement. As she tried to pull back out, the rear of the SUV struck seven pedestrians standing in the parking lot, it said.

Margaret Vanderlaan, 72, Wilhemina Paul, 70, Johanna Dijkhoff, 80, were killed. Four other people were treated at hospitals.

State Trooper Kenn Watson said it was unlikely that Landstra would face charges because neither alcohol nor drugs were and involved, and "obviously, there was no intent."

Landstra was issued a non-criminal citation for improper backing and will likely have her driver's license permanently revoked, Watson told NBC station WFLA of Tampa.


Watson said the incident raised the question of when someone is too old to drive.

"I understand this is a quality-of-life issue," he said. "However, we do not want to endanger our friends or our neighbors by allowing them to continue to drive."

An average of 15 people ages 65 and older die in automobile accidents every day in the U.S., according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Elderly drivers can take an interactive safety self-evaluation on AAA's Senior Driving website.

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