An Acreage man charged with leaving the scene of the accident after his car allegedly hit and killed a 29-year-old bicyclist on PGA Boulevard has had the criminal charge against him dropped but now faces a lawsuit by the bicyclist’s parents.
Raul and Susan Lozano filed suit against George Meada, 65, in Palm Beach County Circuit Court last week, claiming he caused the death of their son, Corey, on June 14. The Lozanos are also suing Meada’s wife, Ruth, who owned the Lexus LX470 SUV that they claim struck and killed their son on PGA east of the Beeline Highway.
The Lozanos are seeking an unspecified amount but plan to amend the lawsuit to seek punitive damages because Meada drove off, leaving Lozano to die alongside the road, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney David Halberg.
George Meada was arrested on June 19 and charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
But the charge was later dropped by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office after attorney Mitchell Beers used a Florida Supreme Court decision from a Boca Raton case to persuade prosecutors they didn’t have enough evidence to convict Meada.
“You have to have actual knowledge that you were in an accident,” Beers said, quoting a decision the Supreme Court made in January when it ordered a new trial for Zachariah Dorsett. He was convicted of leaving the scene of a 2007 crash in which skateboarder Nicholas Savinon, then 15, was dragged for 40 feet under his pickup. The youth survived.
Like Dorsett, Meada said he didn’t know he had hit anyone, said Beers, who represented Meada on the criminal charge. The stretch of PGA near the Beeline is dark. It’s not unusual for wild boars to dart across the road, he said.
When initially questioned by police several days after the incident, Meada said his Lexus was damaged when he hit a wild hog, Palm Beach Gardens police said. Later, he admitted that when he heard about Lozano’s death on the news the day after his traffic incident, he realized he had struck the bicyclist. He decided not to report it, police said, because he feared the consequences.
Police said Meada told them he and his wife had dinner and drinks at J. Alexanders restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens and were on their way home when the crash occurred.
Beers said Meada’s insurer paid the Lozanos the $100,000 limits of his policy. He said he couldn’t predict the outcome of a civil lawsuit. But, he said, the Meadas aren’t wealthy.
“Even if they get a judgment, it’s a matter of collecting it,” he said.