Man Dies Trying to Help Family Celebrate Christmas
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
41-year-old Michael Daniels was riding his bike home on U.S. 441 with a christmas gift for his sister when he was hit by a pick-up truck. His last act was to try help his family celebrate Christmas.
Daniels had to wait until Wednesday to get paid at his job so he could buy his sister a christmas gift. Now, the man who held down two jobs to support his family has left behind those he loved the most...meaning that Christmas will never be the same for his family.
Michael Daniels' room is just about as he left it. A stocking and workclothes hang on the back of the door. Missing checkmarks on a calendar on the wall is only sign that something is wrong.
"I love him and I'm going to miss him forever," says sister Jennifer Jones.
Dozens of envelopes litter the side of northbound U.S. 441 where Daniels was struck Wednesday evening. A make-up brush, fingernail polish and the box to the kit are all that are left of his intended Christmas gift to his sister.
"I was waiting for him and I was wondering why he wasn't coming home," says Jones. "Because it was like 11 o-clock and he hadn't come and I figure something probably happened to him."
And Jones was right--something had happened. A driver of a pick-up truck, clipped Daniels' bike, throwing, and killing him instantly.
"I said, 'Oh God!'," says his mother Vivian Daniels.
But High Springs Police Detective Deborah Holley says the driver of the pick-up, 36-year-old Robert Harris, did not appear to be impaired in any way when the accident occurred. She says that the maximum distance you have to spot someone like Daniels at night is just over 100 feet. A driver traveling at U.S. 441's posted speed limit of 65 mph has about a second to get out of the way. And that's in the best of nighttime conditions.
"It was dark," says Holley. "There was no lighting at all, and was foggy during the time."
Daniels worked at the Hardee's in High Springs for more than a decade. A manager says Daniels was one employee you didn't have to worry about.
"He was always here," says Ben Bielinski. "Daniels called out one time in the year and a half i have worked here. It's just tragic that something like that happened to such a nice guy."
Without his two paychecks... the family will be living on Vivian's disability check. But more than anything else, they are going to miss Michael Daniels.
Police are waiting for the toxicology report. But at this point they think it was just an accident. But that's no consolation to Daniels' family.
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