Ralph Parker had shown signs of dementia before, but his condition worsened dramatically over the past week. Argumentative one minute, calm the next.
Alarmed, Parker's son left Idaho on Wednesday to get his 93-year-old father in a safe place, police said.
Before he could get here, his dad backed his gold Chevrolet Malibu out of the driveway and went for a drive.
It ended horribly. Parker hit a man crossing 34th Street S, severing the man's right leg, then drove 3 miles with the body stuck in the windshield.
When police asked Parker what happened, he said the body seemed to drop from the sky.
Parker thought it was December and that he was headed home to Pinellas Park, not south toward the Sunshine Skyway bridge, police said.
The case is an extreme example of a complicated and enduring issue in Florida and everywhere: When is someone too old to drive? Experts say there is no reliable test or quick answer.
The event contradicts those experts. Presumably, they mean there's no safe reliable test and there's no quick answer before the test occurs.
Last year, nearly 270,000 people age 85 or older were licensed to drive in Florida. Of those, at least 20 percent are considered "dementia drivers," with a mild to moderate condition, according to a 2004 state report.