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Charity Event, Court Cases Continue To Keep Donna Chen's Name Alive

A charity event to remember Donna Chen, who was killed by a suspected drunken driver in January 2012, will be held this weekend.

A year after her death, Donna Chen is not forgotten.

The 53-year-old mother was killed by a suspected drunken driver in January 2012 on Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key while jogging with her dog Barney. 

This year will see three storylines out of Chen's death in Sarasota, two of them in court, but one event this weekend hopes to bring some joy while helping others.

Donna Chen Memorial Cut-A-Thon

Yellow Strawberry Hair Salon, 2345 Bee Ridge Road, will host a Cut-A-Thon from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6 with all proceeds going to the Humane Society of Sarasota County.

It's a way to remember Chen's love of animals and the trauma her dog Barney suffered, as he ran away from the scene and was later found in Gulf of Mexico waters by a kayaker. The co-owner of the salon, Richard Weintraub is also a longtime family friend of the Chens.

Folks who want a haircut can show up and pay how ever much they think their cut is worth and all proceeds will go to the Humane Society. Tervis Tumbler and WWSB is also sponsoring the event.

The event is first-come, first-served only and no advanced reservations will be accepted.  The salon will be fully staffed to accommodate as many people as possible with all services and staff time being donated as well.  Call 941-924-1311 for more information. 

Negligence Lawsuit

The Chen family filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Tom Knight on Dec. 27 after the case was unresolved and a settlement over negligence charges were unable to be made, The Herald-Tribune reported.

The family is seeking $15,000 in damages, the paper reported:

Damian Mallard, the family's attorney, said the case is not about money but rather an attempt to get the Sheriff's Office to change the way it responds to complaints of drunken people on the public beach.

“They are not happy with the Sheriff's Department policy telling drunk people to leave, and then they leave in their car and kill somebody,” Mallard said. “They created a danger that didn't need to exist.” 

Chen's family have appeared before the County Commission in 2012 urging the sheriff's office to implement a new policy to deal with drunken and disorderly people at Siesta Key Beach.

The affidavit in the case said that Talman was creating a disturbance with a group of bikers at Siesta Key Beach and appeared to be under the influence, so a deputy told Talman and his friend to leave the beach, which led to the two getting in a Nissan Altima and striking Chen on the road.

The sheriff's office in the past year said that there's not a way to arrest people just for being drunk at Siesta Key Beach without violating rights since the beach allows alcohol, which is served at the concession stand, and folks can bring their own beer, wine and liquor. 

The family had also requested that the commission ban alcohol on Siesta Key Beach in 2012, but issue does not have the will of the commission to be brought up again, according to one county commissioner. 

Talman's Criminal Case

As for Talman's court case, it is expected he will have his criminal case decided this year. 

The past year has involved pre-trial case management hearings and the next one is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8 in Sarasota County Circuit Court.

Talman faces 10 counts of DUI and Damaged Property, one count of  vehicular homicide, one count of DUI negligent manslaughter with a vehicle and one count of leave the scene of an accident that was tied to a hit-and-run just moments before Talman's car struck Chen.

Related Coverage

  • Siesta Key Jogger Dies After Hit by Car
  • Kayaker Finds DUI Victim's Dog
  • Safety Review Sought on Midnight Pass Road
  • Should Alcohol Be Banned On Siesta Key Beach?
  • Sheriff's DUI Stats: Only One Arrest Linked to Siesta Key Beach


Richard M. Swier January 04, 2013 at 12:49 PM
How about everyone donate and place the name of a Florida fallen military hero who has died in Iraq or Afghanistan on the 9/11 Memorial located in Patriots Park in Venice.
xiaoguo March 04, 2013 at 09:43 AM
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herb nenenger April 06, 2013 at 12:02 AM
I have no ties to this family but it is one that sticks with me, the dog, the lovely woman, the punk who did it. .it is a tragedy that made me cry at work when I read about this complete stranger having her life shortened abruptly because this kid wanted to party. It so disgusts and saddens me

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