Ron Smith: Lawyer who fought AGAINST helmet law dies along with GF in bike crash while not wearing one

Ron Smith: Lawyer who fought AGAINST helmet law dies along with GF in bike crash while not wearing one
Ron Smith fought against regulations requiring helmet use for almost ten years (The Florida Bar website)

TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA: A Florida lawyer who successfully fought against state helmet legislation died in a motorbike crash while without wearing a helmet. Ron Smith, 66, an experienced lawyer, and his girlfriend Brenda Jeanan Volpe, 62, were killed in a deadly motorbike accident on August 20 while neither of them was donning a helmet. The pair reportedly met through a group called the American Legion in Old Town.

According to Tampa Bay Times, Smith allegedly lost control of their bike when slowing down for traffic while Smith and Volpe were traveling to a funeral. When Smith started to slow down for traffic on US 19 North in Pinellas County, he lost control of his motorbike and skidded on the road, according to an accident report from the Florida Highway Patrol. His bike overturned onto its left side, rotating in a clockwise direction, and hit the utility trailer's left side and wheel. No one was charged in connection with the collision, according to Steve Gaskins, a spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol. 

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Both Smith and Volpe died of blunt trauma to the head, as per Smith's autopsy report and an initial report for Volpe from the Hillsborough medical examiner. Eric Teoh, a motorcycle safety researcher at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told the portal, “It’s entirely possible that if they were wearing a helmet they might have survived but … we can’t say for sure.” Teoh noted that helmets definitely would have increased their chances.

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An attorney and passionate motorcycle rider from Pinellas County, Florida, Ron Smith, fought against regulations requiring helmet use for almost ten years. The state law eventually changed. In 2000, Florida changed its laws to state that anyone over 21 was no longer required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle if they had more than $10,000 of insurance to cover accidents. Ron was also a member of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, an advocacy group that has lobbied against helmet laws. He practiced law and defended individuals accused of breaking Florida's motorcycle safety legislation in proceedings that, according to experts, may have contributed to the state's obligatory helmet requirement being overturned.

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Smith was recalled by his friends and coworkers as a person who cherished both his and others' individuality. Dave Newman, who along with Smith was a member of the American Legion Riders, remarked that Smith felt everyone should have their own option. “He thought everybody should have their own choice,” he remarked. Gary Pruss, another friend of Ron, claimed Ron was also renowned for his sound judgment. “He was a guy that you went to for advice,” Pruss remarked. On one online tribute page, Volpe was also described as a ‘devoted loving mom, grandma, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, and friend, a truly beautiful person.’


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