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Friday, July 1, 2022

Document details bicyclist’s trauma since hit-and-run crash one year ago

Jessica Laube

A court document is providing details of a bicyclist’s trauma since a hit-and-run crash one year ago in The Villages.

Jessica Laube, 60, of the Village of Dunedin, had been riding home on Morse Boulevard with her husband on Oct. 30, 2020 when both of them were struck by a white Mercedes driven by Marilyn Hamilton of the Village of Fernandina, according to an arrest report from the Florida Highway Patrol.

Hamilton, now 90, remains free on bond and continues to face two felony counts of hit and run.

Earlier this month, Hamilton was found guilty on a traffic offense – careless driving – for which she had been ticketed by FHP. Judge Paul Militello revoked Hamilton’s license for six months.

Laube and Hunter attended the Sumter County Court hearing via Zoom. A document entered into the record shows how difficult life has been for the former yoga instructor since the devastating accident.

Laube had been cycling for 40 years, taking long bicycle trips throughout the United States and abroad. She is a member of the Sumter Landing Bike Club. She always obeyed all traffic laws, used hand signals and had flashing lights on her bicycle to make her as visible as possible.

The day of the hit-and-run, which occurred just before noon, Laube was wearing a bright orange and yellow bicycling jacket, her bright yellow bicycle’s front and rear daytime running lights were on, and she was wearing an orange helmet with a rear flashing light.

“Yet Hamilton drove right into her,” according to a document filed in court by Laube and her husband, Robert Hunter.

He had been leading on Morse Boulevard that day with his wife following behind him. He was injured, but not as severely as his wife.

The Devastating Impact of the Crash

The force of the impact was so great that Laube was thrown off her bicycle, “which no doubt saved her life since Hamilton drove into it and destroyed it.” Laube’s helmet broke the front windshield of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Laube was unconscious and struggling for breath. She was airlifted to Ocala Regional Medical Center where she remained in the intensive care unit for 30 days. She suffered 17 broken ribs, a collapsed lung, paralyzed vocal cord, broken arm, broken wrist, torn finger tendons and ligaments and brain injuries.

She was released to go home with a feeding tube at Thanksgiving. Her children have taken turns staying with and caring for her for months.

Laube still has nightmares and debilitating anxiety. She is unable to drive. She needs help bathing, dressing, walking, planning, organizing and following directions. Being in a car gives her terrible migraines and nausea. The mere sound of traffic throws her into a panic.

In addition to her physical recovery, she requires counseling to help her deal with the “helplessness, anxiety, and fear.”

Hit-and-run case up in court next month

Marilyn Hamilton

Hamilton’s felony hit-and-run case is due for a case management hearing Nov. 9 before Judge Mary Hatcher in Sumter County Court.

After the crash, Hamilton had her damaged 2014 Mercedes towed to a dealership in Gainesville, leading to her arrest on Nov. 5 at her home on Twisted Oak Way. When she was interviewed by an investigator that day, she admitted she had been frightened.

“I was so scared. I just wanted to go home. Oh my god, I am so sorry. I feel so bad,” Hamilton told the investigator.

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