ST. PETERSBURG — Jessica Colihan and Bill Todd went out to dinner Jan. 12 at Boyle's Backyard Barbecue and Grill, a date subdued by the fact that she had to work the next day.
They returned to his place in Dunedin and watched television until 2 a.m. before falling asleep.
He never saw her again.
Ms. Colihan apparently left Todd's residence later that night and was headed home on Interstate 275 when she lost control of her car. At 4:10 a.m. on last Tuesday, Ms. Colihan's Chevy Aveo went off the road at the 38th Avenue N exit ramp and struck a pole and a sign.
Ms. Colihan was 24.
Todd said she had one glass of wine hours earlier at dinner. Authorities are investigating what caused the crash.
• • •
Extroverted and popular, Ms. Colihan became famous in her circle of friends for her theatrical displays.
She would strike a pose — lips smooched out, an index finger pointed upward — and deliver her signature line: "I'm so mad!"
There was a dirty look, a pouty look. Always with a comic edge, even if she really was angry.
"Most people can't handle me," Ms. Colihan wrote on her MySpace page. "I'm goofy as hell, some people mistake that as being weird. Never ask me what I'm thinking, cuz trust me, you don't wanna know. I hate drama, fake people, and most of all, LIARS."
"She was very off and on about what she wanted to do in life," said her friend Nichole Orr, 26.
She worked at Paisano's Pizza 'N Pasta, a restaurant now owned by her brother, for the past 10 years. Co-workers describe Ms. Colihan as a hard worker who could leave her problems at the door.
Once, they goaded her into hoisting a tray of dishes higher and higher. The tray slipped, the dishes shattered. Ms. Colihan went into the parking lot and cried.
For the past four years she fluctuated between the same two boyfriends. Todd was confident and stable; Joe Saccucci, sensitive and articulate.
"She always said if you could put the two of us together, you'd have the perfect man," said Saccucci, 31.
• • •
Her stepfather, Ken Kokotek, a retired St. Petersburg police officer, knows what it is like to knock on doors and inform relatives that a loved one has died.
But when he saw the Florida Highway Patrol cruiser outside and heard the knock at 6 a.m. Jan. 13, his first thought was, "Okay, what kind of trouble did she get herself into now?"
The Highway Patrol officer asked if Ms. Colihan's mother also lived at the address. Kokotek recalled that when he answered in the affirmative, the officer said, "Would you please get her?"
"At that point, I knew what it was about."
Andrew Meacham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2431.