A Florida attorney who fought state helmet laws died in a motorcycle crash while not wearing one in August.
Ron Smith, an experienced rider, was killed Aug. 20 after he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into a utility trailer. His passenger, Brenda Volpe, his girlfriend, also died.
Smith and His Girlfriend Both Weren't Wearing Helmets
Smith was traveling on U.S. 19 North in Pinellas County when he began to slow down to traffic, lost control of his motorcycle and skidded on the roadway, the Florida Highway Patrol wrote in an accident report. His bike rotated "in a clockwise motion, overturning onto its left side," and collided with the left side and wheel of the utility trailer.
Smith, 66, was pronounced dead at the scene. Volpe, 62, died hours later at a hospital. A medical examiner said Smith and Volpe died from head trauma, the Times reported. The office did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.
The accident report noted that neither was wearing a helmet, although it is unknown whether one would have prevented their deaths.
Smith Advocated Against the Use of Helmets for Decades
Smith spent more than a decade fighting helmet laws in the Sunshine State, with one of his cases ending in a 1998 ruling that dismissed the traffic tickets of three motorcyclists who had been riding without helmets.
His legal battles led to a 2000 state law allowing riders over 21 to go without head protection as long as they had $10,000 in insurance coverage for accidents, according to the paper, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
In 1996, Smith represented a man who was ticketed for riding his motorcycle without a helmet in Madeira Beach, according to the Times , citing a Tampa Tribune article. As a result of the case, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office briefly stopped enforcing the helmet law after a judge dismissed the citation. The judge based the decision on another case that Smith fought, in which it was ruled that Florida's law was unconstitutional.
His friend Dave Newman said Smith didn't like being told what to do. "He thought everybody should have their own choice," he told the paper.
Another pal, Gary Pruss, said he was also known for his good judgment. "He was a guy that you went to for advice," Pruss said.