The driver who crashed his pickup and ended up on top of Fishin’ Frank’s Bait & Tackle shop early Sunday morning is identified in a crash report as John Vinson Kilbourne, 31, of Punta Gorda.
Kilbourne was traveling south on U.S. 41 approaching Edgewater Drive when he veered right, traveling across the driveway access of the Circle K at 4395 Tamiami Trail. He crossed a ditch and struck a raised concrete curb, causing his pickup to became airborne. He struck Fishin’ Frank’s, overturning and coming to rest on the roof. The report obtained by the Sun did not indicate his speed.
The vehicle and building caught on fire, destroying Fishin’ Frank’s completely. The crash is suspected to be alcohol related, but FHP has yet to charge any crime.
Lt. Greg Bueno said Wednesday the crash remains under investigation with charges pending against the driver.
According to court records, Kilbourne already had an open DUI case from December, when he was arrested leaving Paddy Wagon at 2685 Tamiami Trail around 2:20 a.m. He was allegedly intoxicated, driving with no headlights, partially in the oncoming lane.
Kilbourne has prior convictions for marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and has been arrested for possession of cocaine, though that charge was eventually dropped by prosecutors.
He is listed in a prior booking report as a Fort Myers resident, but his mother is listed at the Punta Gorda address included in the crash report. The booking report from December lists him as working in auto sales.
A phone number listed for Kilbourne on a prior booking report did not connect.
“Fishin’” Frank Hommema said Wednesday he is looking at a new location at 4535 Tamiami Trail, just a few buildings south of the former location. A lease agreement has already been written up, so that as soon as he gets approval from the bank, they can start putting up the bait tanks and freezers to resume that part of the business right away.
“Within a matter of days from that moment, we’ll be back selling bait,” he said.
But, it’s not a done deal with the bank, since much of the business’ paperwork was lost in the fire, Hommema noted.
He’s had a lot of support from customers at the bank, county commissioners and employees, and the community as a whole.
“Everybody’s being very nice and making sure we follow the laws and the rules but making sure we don’t have to deal with any more red tape,” he said.
He attributes the support of the community to the kind of people he’s always hired at the shop.
“We have the most unique, eclectic group of people on the planet, and there’s a saying you don’t hire people who are good to fish, you hire warm, friendly people, because you can’t teach that,” he said. “I can teach people how to fish, teach them what they need to know to help the customers, but who do you learn how to be warm and friendly and engaging? Those are the people I look for, the people I want to be around all day.”