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Resident charged with negligent manslaughter

By Staff | Jan 6, 2015

A Cape Coral driver is facing charges after he allegedly hit and killed a bicyclist while speeding.

Jason William Stewart, 44, of 3619 N.E. 18th Ave., was taken into custody on a warrant on Mon-day by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The State Attorney’s Office issued the warrant for Stewart’s arrest after receiving the completed investigation into the September accident, according to the Cape Coral police.

He was booked at the Lee County Jail, where he remained Tuesday without bond.

Stewart is charged with one count of each of homicide negligent manslaughter with vehicle killing of person or viable fetus with vehicle – a felony – and reckless driving damage person or property.

According to Cape Police reports, on Sept. 28, Stewart was driving east on Diplomat Parkway East in the outside lane in a blue Chevrolet Corvette. At about 3:37 p.m., the front end of the vehicle reportedly struck the back tire of a bicyclist in the 600 block. The bicyclist was also traveling east in the outside lane at the time.

The bicyclist, William Scott Johnsen, 60, 3506 S.E. 10th Place, was “totally ejected” and thrown onto the windshield of the Corvette. The accident report states that Stewart failed to observe Johnsen.

The vehicle then left the roadway and entered an empty field on the south side of Diplomat. It continued to travel east, where Johnsen was ejected from the Corvette and landed in a ditch.

According to the report, the vehicle drove back onto the eastbound lanes of Diplomat, then crossed over all of those lanes and entered the grass median. The Corvette next traveled across the westbound lanes and entered another empty field to the north of Diplomat, where it finally came to its final rest.

Johnsen died on scene as a result of the injuries that he sustained.

At the time of the crash, he was wearing a helmet and had safety lights on.

Stewart was treated for minor injuries, but declined further treatment.

A passenger in the Corvette, Frank Christopher Sprague, 37, of 5865 Littlestone Court, North Fort Myers, was treated on scene for non-life threatening injuries. He was later treated at Lee Memorial Hospital before being released.

Police stated that neither alcohol nor drugs were a factor in the accident.

According to the report, Stewart and Johnsen were negotiating a left turn in the roadway when the crash occurred. Stewart was traveling an estimated 100 mph – the posted speed is 45 mph.

“Investigators determined that Stewart was operating the vehicle in a reckless manner at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour,” Sgt. Dana Coston, spokesman for the Cape police, said Tuesday.

Neither Stewart nor his family could be reached for comment on the charges.

According to the Lee County Clerk of Courts, Stewart has a history of traffic infractions. In February, he was cited for failing to obey a traffic control device, but adjudication was withheld for traffic school. In 2013, he was found guilty of DUI, while a charge of participating in an unlawful race was dropped.

In 2012, Stewart was found guilty of reckless driving and a traffic infraction of speed in excess of 50 mph. The year before that, he was cited for speed unlawful interstate and for a traffic control device red light. Adjudication was withheld on both infractions for traffic school, according to the court records.

Stewart has been cited for overtaking on right and failing to obey a traffic control device, again.

He has a court appearance on the new charges scheduled for Feb. 9.

Johnsen, a part-time Cape resident for 12 years, had permanently relocated to the city in 2013. Formerly of Framingham, Mass., he was an avid cyclist who rode daily – rain or shine.