Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

Dad's guilt finds purpose

You don't ever want this to happen to you, Barry Marcone said.

You don't want to rush to the site of a car wreck, worried that your son might be injured, only to have a trooper tell you to clear out because you're at a crime scene and then point to your son sitting in a patrol car.

You don't want to smell alcohol on your son's breath or hear his apologies. Most of all, you don't want to get a call the next day, as Marcone did, informing him that a 13-year-old girl in the minivan struck by his son's truck had died in the hospital.

"The death of that little girl just devastated me, I can tell you, and it still does," said Marcone, 61, founder of Driving Sober to Save a Life.

His group's message is the same as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers' but from a different point of view — not of a parent whose child died senselessly, but of a parent whose child caused such a death.

Marcone, a truck driver for Walmart who lives in Ridge Manor, has delivered this message to high school kids through much of Florida and to soldiers as far away as Alaska.

It's always tough to give these talks, he said, but Friday's sessions — seven of them, back to back throughout the school day — were the toughest yet.

They were scheduled on the fifth anniversary of the death of Shelby Hagman, the Parrott Middle School student who had been in the minivan. They were at Hernando High in Brooksville, where, if not for the accident, Hagman would likely be a senior, looking forward to graduation.

Some of the students listening, Marcone knew, had been her friends.

"You think I'm scared?" he said the day before. "Yes, I am."

He started the midmorning session by asking whether anyone had known Shelby. In an audience of about 200, a half-dozen hands shot into the air.

Marcone explained that when he and Shelby's mother, Angie Stone, finally had a chance to sit and talk last fall, they agreed to make this presentation together — and on this day — but she recently decided she couldn't go through with it.

Then he proceeded as he always does: just telling his story.

As he was about to leave work on that day five years ago, he said, he got a call from his former wife, Rose, who said their 24-year-old son, Chris, had been in a crash near her home in Sherman Hills, just east of Interstate 75.

"Driving over there, my first thought was, 'It's just a little subdivision where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. How bad can it be?' " Marcone said.

When he arrived, though, he saw what he later learned were 22 emergency vehicles, including ambulances and patrol cars. He saw his son in one of them. He saw the crumpled hood of his son's Dodge pickup and the deep crater it had left when it struck the side of the Kia minivan.

Barry Marcone would later learn that Chris, after an afternoon of drinking with friends, had picked up an aunt and raced around the subdivision. Investigators estimated that at the time of the crash his truck was traveling about 60 mph. His blood-alcohol level was measured at .207, more than twice the legal limit.

On Friday, Marcone showed pictures of the smashed vehicles and of his son being checked out in the back of an ambulance with his head in his hands.

He described the horror of hearing about Shelby's death the next morning, the shame and guilt he felt in the months leading up to his son's court appearance in March 2008, the shock when he heard a judge sentence Chris to 13 years in prison on a charge of DUI manslaughter and revoke his driver's license for the rest of his life.

Throughout the talk Friday, he peppered the students — more attentive than at any high school assembly I ever attended — with questions.

"Does that look like fun?" Marcone asked. "Do you think it was worth it?"

There were more pictures of razor-wire-rimmed prisons and work camps where his son has spent the last four years, along with descriptions of how Chris' friends and relatives must be searched before any visit.

But, Marcone added, "I still get to visit."

He knows that Shelby's family lost much more than he did. He doesn't want sympathy for his son, he said, or to shift any blame from him. "I hold him 100 percent responsible for what he did," he said. He doesn't want donations and has never even accepted travel expenses, except when he has spoken out of state.

He just wants to let as many young people as possible know that what they and their families will be in for if they do what his son did. He wants them to visit his website — drivingsober.net — and, hopefully, invite him to talk.

He wants it for them and, frankly, for himself. Coming up with the idea for his organization was the only way he could sleep in the months after the wreck, the only thing that started to ease the guilt he felt as a father.

After speaking Friday, he introduced himself to two students who had raised their hands, seniors Kristy Madden and Kory Keylon.

Madden, who had been crying, said the talk upset her, "but I know it was your son who was driving. You didn't cause the crash."

Maybe so, Marcone said, "but as a parent you feel responsible.

"That doesn't go away."

   
Comments
Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

PLANT CITY — A man died Saturday night after he was stabbed by another man inside his own home, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Moses Wilson, 49, got into an argument with James Michael Meeks, 23, both of whom live at 4308 James...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

WASHINGTON — A woman close to the man charged with killing 17 people at a Florida high school warned the FBI in chilling detail that he had a growing collection of guns and a temper so uncontrollable she worried about him "getting into a school and j...
Updated: 1 hour ago
3 dead from severe weather in Arkansas, Kentucky

3 dead from severe weather in Arkansas, Kentucky

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Severe thunderstorms spawned suspected tornadoes and triggered widespread flooding that left at least three people dead in Kentucky and Arkansas. The system that stretched from Texas to the Canadian maritime provinces on Sunday ha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘Filled with rage’: How a scrawny misfit turned into Florida’s worst school shooter

‘Filled with rage’: How a scrawny misfit turned into Florida’s worst school shooter

He was chronically depressed, beguiled by firearms and violence, an oddball ostracized by peers and prone to angry outbursts.He experienced, in rapid succession, blows of the sort that can send a disturbed, isolated young man hurtling into a spiral o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

LARGO — A 60-year-old man who police said was the driver in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run on East Bay Drive from three days prior was arrested by Largo Police on Saturday, the department said.Victor Bonavita was arrested on three charges in relation...
Published: 02/24/18
Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

TAMPA — Officials reopened roads near Citrus Park Mall Saturday evening that had been closed in the afternoon for a natural gas leak caused by a car crash, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fi...
Published: 02/24/18

boca ratonState lawmakerencourages Scott to remove sheriffA lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In a letter sent to ...
Published: 02/24/18

Two airlinescut ties withNRA aftershootings

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it on Saturday, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby organization.Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United air...
Published: 02/24/18

‘Up to States’ to armteachers, Trump tweets

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is "Up to S...
Published: 02/24/18
Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria "without delay" to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded. U.N. humanitarian ch...
Published: 02/24/18