Two Students Were Killed in Tragic Accidents Along West University Avenue
In December of 2020, the University of Florida (UF) community was left reeling by the death of Maggie Paxton, a 2nd semester freshman, who was crossing University Avenue when an unknown driver hit her and then fled the scene.
Just one month later another 2nd semester freshman, Sophia Lambert, was killed after a collision drove a Honda Civic onto a sidewalk. Four friends who were with her at the time were ALSO hospitalized. The driver of one of the vehicles involved was working for Uber Eats.
Now, these women’s families and the UF community are calling for change, and Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen is honored to help. We are representing both families to help them find justice and advocate for a safer University Avenue. By highlighting how these accidents were entirely preventable, we hope to warn drivers they will be punished for risky behaviors and encourage the state of Florida to make much-needed road design changes.
Holding Reckless Drivers Accountable
Both of these fatal accidents were caused by speed, poor judgment, and irresponsible behavior by the drivers involved. The individual who committed a hit-and-run that killed Maggie Paxton had his license plate caught on camera while fleeing the scene of the crime. Witnesses to this accident are being asked to come forward and share any information or details about what may have happened. The second crash involving our client Sophia Lambert was caused by a combination of errors, including an individual who violated the right of way by attempting to make a left turn into the path of a speeding oncoming vehicle. That driver was in the process of making a delivery for the popular app Uber Eats.
We are committed to holding all of the drivers and related entities accountable for their role and decisions that resulted in Maggie and Sophia’s untimely deaths. These accidents were traumatic for not only the families of Maggie and Sophia but also for the entire UF community. In helping these women’s families find justice, we hope our work will provide a balm for the students mourning the loss of two promising and well-loved peers.
Pushing for Safer UF Roads
Our team is also proudly working in conjunction with two advocacy groups—the Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation (GCAT) and Gators Against Student Pedestrian Deaths (GASPD)—to push for a safer environment for pedestrians and bikers along West University Avenue. More than 1 in 4 students walk or bike to campus along a road that has long been known as a hotspot for pedestrian and bicyclist accidents and deaths.
Together, GCAT and GASPD have proposed several changes to policy and road design that will hopefully make this roadway safer. Currently, University Avenue is not a “complete street” designed for vehicle, biker, and pedestrian traffic—it is known for speeding drivers and inadequate enforcement of traffic laws. Between constituent engagement and legal action, we are aiming to raise public awareness and increase pressure so that appropriate action can be taken to make this road safer and prevent further losses of life.
UF Roots at Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen
Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen has put together a formidable team to fight for the families of the students lost in the recent accidents. Firm co-founder Stuart Z. Grossman, named partners Andrew B. Yaffa, and William P. Mulligan, who received his B.A. from the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. A proud Gator to this day, Attorney Mulligan has a personal stake and is ready to do whatever it takes to make this road safer and to see justice done.
Gators, you can get involved in the effort to save lives by visiting the advocacy groups linked in this post. Our hearts go out to all who knew and loved Sophia and Maggie. We do this work in their name and honor.
- UF student killed in Wednesday night hit and run near campus, The Independent Alligator
- UF student dead after car crash on University Avenue, The Independent Alligator
- Student Government working to address traffic safety issues in and around campus, The Independent Alligator
- Her light will never dim: remembering Margaret Paxton, The Independent Alligator
- Student expresses concern after 18-year-old UF student killed in hit and run, WCJB
- In honor of Sophia Lambert: Tell your friends and family you love them, The Independent Alligator
- UF freshman, Palmetto grad dies when car involved in crash careens onto sidewalk, into her, The Miami Herald
- Petition: Traffic Safety for UF Students
- Petition: Install Speed Bumps On University Avenue (University of Florida)
- Facebook Group: Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation – GCAT
- Facebook Group: Gators Against Student Pedestrian Deaths