Zachary Richards

Zachary Richards

NORTH PORT — A North Port man who hit and killed a motorcyclist is in the Sarasota County Jail facing multiple charges, including DUI manslaughter, investigators said Wednesday.

Zachary Richards, 33, who lives on the 5000 block of Prime Terrace, North Port, was drunk as he drove the van south on Tamiami Trail, “at a high rate of speed with no headlights on,” the Florida Highway Patrol alleged in their initial report.

A man riding a motorcycle was killed and his passenger injured in the crash that happened at 10:24 p.m. Tuesday at the entrance to the Harbor Isles community, just outside the North Port city limits.

Richards was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury and seven counts of DUI with property damage.

Richards, driving a Ford Transit Van, was southbound on Tamiami approaching Palm Harbor Drive in the inside lane.

Two people on a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle were headed north on Tamiami. The motorcyclist tried to turn into Palm Harbor Drive, but the van slammed into the bike. The motorcycle passenger was thrown from the bike, the report states.

A third vehicle, a Lexus RX headed north on Tamiami Trial, then struck the motorcycle. A 77-year-old man from South Barrington, Indiana, was driving the Lexus with a 74-year-old woman also in the car.


The motorcycle driver, who was 67, was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, a 62-year-old woman, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. The FHP did not name the people on the motorcycle or in the Lexus.

Troopers arrested Richards at the scene and transported him to the Sarasota County Jail where he was booked on the three charges. Richards refused to submit to a blood-alcohol breath test and surrendered his drivers license to troopers, according to court documents.

Richards has no criminal record in Sarasota County, according to the Clerk of Court website, but has been cited for several traffic violations over the years dating back to 2010, when he was ticketed for driving without a seatbelt and not carrying a licence.

He got two tickets in 2012, one in July for failing to stop at a red light and one in November for speeding. He was ticketed again for speeding in 2013. North Port Police ticketed him Oct. 13 for failing to move over for an emergency vehicle on Toledo Blade Boulevard.

Richards remained in custody Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency workers closed a portion of Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) for several hours, with traffic diverted to De Leon Drive and Ortiz Boulevard. The highway was reopened after 6 a.m. Wednesday.

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