21-year-old Naples man dies after high-speed crash into tree

R. Sterling Earhart, 21, was killed in the single-vehicle crash, which occurred at 11:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, on Vineyards Boulevard in North Naples.

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R. Sterling Earhart, 21, was killed in the single-vehicle crash, which occurred at 11:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, on Vineyards Boulevard in North Naples.

— A 21-year-old Naples man died in a crash Thursday night after his car, traveling nearly 100 mph, struck a tree in the Vineyards golf course community of North Naples.

Robert Sterling Earhart, a student at the Ave Maria School of Law, was killed in the single-vehicle crash, which occurred at 11:15 p.m. on Vineyards Boulevard near Tuscany Way, a street in the Vineyards just north of Physicians Regional Medical Center-Pine Ridge, the Florida Highway Patrol reports.

The victim's grandfather said his grandson, who was called Sterling, was well liked but he had not seen his grandson for many years, in part because he grew up in Raleigh, N.C.

"He was a very bright boy," Brandt Earhart, 84, of Weeki Wachee, said Friday morning. "He had a nice personality."

Fred Minter, president of the Vintage Reserve association where the Earhart family lives, said Sterling Earhart was attending Ave Maria School of Law, which is located in the Vineyards. He has not spoken to the family today.

“He seemed like a hard-working, congenial kid," Minter said. "He had a couple of guys who were his buddies who would come here (to see him). He lived with his parents.”

Eugene R. Milhizer, president and dean of Ave Maria School of Law, issued a statement Friday afternoon regarding the tragic death of Earhart.

"On behalf of the Ave Maria School of Law community, I extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Robert Sterling Earhart on the tragic news of the passing of their son, a first-year student at our law school," Milhizer said. "A mass will be held in Robert’s memory today at 12:30 p.m., in the St. Thomas More Commons building, Ave Maria School of Law, 1025 Commons Circle, Naples. Counseling and support will be available during this very difficult time today after 3:30 p.m. in the St. Thomas More Commons Moot Court Room. Classes have been cancelled for today at the law school. Mr. Earhart and his family will be in our prayers.”

Minter said Sterling Earhart was never disruptive in the Vineyards community, which consists of 112 coach homes, and so learning that he was driving so fast on Vineyards Boulevard was a shock.

“I don’t know his habits well enough to know if he drove fast,” Minter said. “It was fast for Vineyards Boulevard.”

Earhart was driving a 2010 Volkswagen Jetta southbound on Vineyards Boulevard at a speed in excess of 97 mph in a posted 35-mph speed zone when he was unable to negotiate a curve north of the intersection of Tuscany Way, according to FHP reports.

Reports show his car left the roadway while in a counter-clockwise rotation, re-entered the road and crossed the median into the northbound lanes of Vineyards Boulevard. Earnart steered to the right in an attempt to regain control, but entered the median and struck a tree 350 feet south of Tuscany Way. The car rotated counter-clockwise and came to final rest facing north in the southbound lanes.

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Comments » 12

MisterK writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

bevhara#279724 writes:

I WISH the police would set up a trap there... people speed thru as if it was a highway... they use it as a cut thru between Vanderbilt Beach and Pine Ridge.

jim8349 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

zurich writes:

in response to bevhara#279724:

I WISH the police would set up a trap there... people speed thru as if it was a highway... they use it as a cut thru between Vanderbilt Beach and Pine Ridge.

There are very few streets in Naples that some drivers feel they can drive speed ,and put others in danger .The dangerous drivers are the ones who the authorities listen to, when they try to put up cameras at stop lights and speed violators .They don't listen to the law abiders ,and taking out stop light cameras is a good example .

Heraclitus writes:

Nothing more dangerous to one's self than overestimating one's abilities, but, then again, that which does not kill me simply postpones the inevitable.

We reach old age because we survive our mistakes.

jim8349 writes:

in response to jim8349:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What I said is the children living in the Vineyards are safer today. No excuse for driving 97 MPH and no sympathy for the driver. And my message gets deleted. Why?

BeHeard writes:

So lucky, no one else had been hurt by his reckless ways. There is no excuse to drive that fast anywhere, highway..NO WHERE! Let alone a residential area. Such a waste of a life.

Voice-of-America writes:

in response to jim8349:

What I said is the children living in the Vineyards are safer today. No excuse for driving 97 MPH and no sympathy for the driver. And my message gets deleted. Why?

Why??.....

Because the Dead kid has a family and friends......

He made a mistake.....Show some respect....He did not deserve to die......

This same spot in the Vineyards his claimed previous victims.....I have been to their funerals.....Each time they were going way to fast.......So sad and foolish............

bill#270685 writes:

in response to zurich:

There are very few streets in Naples that some drivers feel they can drive speed ,and put others in danger .The dangerous drivers are the ones who the authorities listen to, when they try to put up cameras at stop lights and speed violators .They don't listen to the law abiders ,and taking out stop light cameras is a good example .

So your saying a red light camera would have prevented this? DOPE!

Dilbert writes:

CCSO does NOT run radar in the Vineyards....WHY ??

MONEY TALKS!

RIP

CalmSeas writes:

Dibert: isn't that the goofy guy?

Could it be that Vineyards is a private community thus the Sheriff's Department does not enforce traffic laws? Maybe some research would be in order before you write a goofy opinion. Many communities have taken the proper steps through the city or county attorney's office to have police enforcement. I do not know what the case is with Vineyards. Maybe one of those well paid Chiefs at the Sheriff's Department could tell you. That is if you are interested in facts and not just in posting your goofy opinion.

Stunner writes:

in response to CalmSeas:

Dibert: isn't that the goofy guy?

Could it be that Vineyards is a private community thus the Sheriff's Department does not enforce traffic laws? Maybe some research would be in order before you write a goofy opinion. Many communities have taken the proper steps through the city or county attorney's office to have police enforcement. I do not know what the case is with Vineyards. Maybe one of those well paid Chiefs at the Sheriff's Department could tell you. That is if you are interested in facts and not just in posting your goofy opinion.

Vineyards Blvd is not in a gated community and is, I believe, a county maintained and enforced road. Law enforcement has every right to and does enforce the speed on this road. Maybe you, CalmSeas, should do more research. NOBODY needs to be driving 97 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour zone in a populated residential community and put others that didn't chose to make such a deadly decision in danger.

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