Garbage truck backs over, kills man, 73, walking dog, FHP says

Victim identified as James Lear

LAKE NONA, Fla. – A garbage truck backed over and killed a 73-year-old man who was walking his dog Wednesday morning in Orange County, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The fatal crash was reported at 7 a.m. at Prestbury Drive and Kelsall Drive, east of Narcoossee Road near Lake Nona Middle School.

FHP officials said James Lear was walking his dog on Prestbury Drive when the garbage truck backed over him and his dog.

"It's routine for this truck to back up out of this location. The man that was walking his dog was legally walking his dog on the proper side of the roadway, facing traffic so that put his back to the garbage truck backing up, and then as the garbage truck backed up it did back up over him and his dog," FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said.

Lear was taken to Florida Hospital East, where he died, troopers said. Lear is the stepfather of former Orlando Magic player Drew Gooden, an official said.

"You will be missed and loved forever," Gooden tweeted Wednesday.

The dog is being treated a vet clinic, the FHP said.

A neighbor who witnessed the crash and called 911 described Lear's death as "incomprehensible." 

"His legs were mangled; he was alert, though, I was able to lean down and talk to him, ask him some basic questions -- his name, if he remembered what happened, where his wife was. I know he's married," the neighbor said. "While I was on the phone with 911, I asked Jim if he would like me to pray with him and he said he would, so we prayed together."

Charges are pending against Walner Jean Philippe, 42, of Orlando, who was driving the truck, the FHP said. He was not injured.

[RELATED: News 6 investigates deaths, damage caused by garbage trucks]

Orange County government officials released a statement about the crash on Wednesday.

“We were heartbroken to learn of the death of Lake Nona resident James Lear, and extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends. The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting an investigation of this tragic incident. FCC Environmental Services, the private trash hauler, is cooperating fully with the FHP.  We are awaiting more information,” the statement read.

FCC Environmental Services also released a statement.

"FCC is deeply saddened and moved to hear the news of a fatality that occurred this morning involving one of our vehicles.  FCC is cooperating with officials, and awaits the results pending a thorough investigation, we are fully committed to the safety of the public and our employees. We want to extend our sincerest condolences to the Lear family during this very difficult time," the statement read.

About the Author:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.