Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Memorials for Elroy McConnell and his three sons remain at St. Petersburg corner

At the corner of 22nd Avenue N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in St. Petersburg is a roadside memorial near a 7-Eleven sign. It’s been there since the August car crash and deaths of four men: Elroy McConnell and his three adult sons.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

At the corner of 22nd Avenue N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in St. Petersburg is a roadside memorial near a 7-Eleven sign. It’s been there since the August car crash and deaths of four men: Elroy McConnell and his three adult sons.

The red tinsel Valentine heart and pretty flowers are a reminder of the horror. Not that those who see it daily ever really forgot.

It's been almost 10 months since an Orlando father and his three adult sons were killed at 22nd Avenue N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in St. Petersburg.

A man police described as a drunken driver remains behind bars awaiting trial.

But at the busy corner where all these lives ended at once, a colorful memorial lives on.

Someone, perhaps several people, have placed candles, rosary beads, stuffed animals and plants near a 7-Eleven sign. A gas station clerk said he thought it was the grieving family visiting from Orlando every Sunday. Someone else suspected it was local residents.

How many more months, years, decades will it go on?

• • •

Cars whiz by. Bicyclists ride up to buy six-packs at the store. Well-dressed families shuffle in and out of a funeral home across the street. Drivers absentmindedly pump gas.

No one questions the display of fake flowers sprouting from cinder blocks or the State Farm teddy bears wrapped in plastic, which sit untouched day after day.

"It's been there so long, I barely notice it anymore," said 39-year-old Frieda Jackson, pumping gas across the street at a Shell gas station on her way to work.

But many people do notice, even if just for a glancing second while waiting at a red light.

"You can't ride by and not feel something," said Jack West, 57, who lives with his sister nearby and recently stopped at the 7-Eleven. "I remember seeing the picture of the family on TV. You couldn't pick a worse scenario."

Every fatal car accident is tragic. But this one hit the community hard.

It took the lives of Elroy McConnell Jr., 51; Elroy "Roy" McConnell III, 28; Nathan McConnell, 24; and Kelly McConnell, 19.

They died when 20-year-old Demetrius Jordan, speeding and intoxicated, ran a red light and crashed into them, St. Petersburg police said.

Some who lived nearby reported hearing the crash on Aug. 1 at 12:45 a.m.

The deeply religious father, a financial consultant, and his three sons were heading back from the movies to three wives and a girlfriend at a Redington Beach rental. The women would give a news conference in Orlando days later, sobbing as they talked of the men as sweet fathers, hard workers and devoted Christians.

The corner where the crash happened was showered with flowers and gifts, and police tape blocked off the area for several weeks. Eventually, the tape was gone and the 7-Eleven sign was repaired.

The gifts remained.

"Those are probably strangers leaving those things," said Jane Thompson, a receptionist at the Anderson-McQueen Funeral and Cremation Center across the street. "Everyone can relate."

• • •

Calls to Amy McConnell, the wife of Elroy McConnell Jr., were not returned, nor were calls to the sons' mother, Lisa Raybern. The DUI-manslaughter case against Jordan is still making its way through court proceedings.

A pretrial hearing Friday was delayed, and a defense attorney says he is pursuing a plea deal. Some grieving members of the McConnell family were in the courtroom Friday but declined comment.

The case has not made headlines since last August, but people haven't forgotten. This past October, Carrie Dehlin of St. Petersburg left this message on an online guest book memorializing the McConnells:

"Please remember that this accident has affected not just you, but complete strangers. The memory of these men will be remembered by all the residents of Tampa Bay. … We will never forget this happened."

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

Memorials for Elroy McConnell and his three sons remain at St. Petersburg corner 05/29/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 29, 2011 8:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  2. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  3. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  4. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  5. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    In their third year with pitching coach Neil Allen, the Twins have been one of the surprises of the American League.