BRANDON — The sun had yet to break the horizon Wednesday morning when Andrew Owens stepped off the curb on Parsons Avenue and into the roadway in front of Brandon Oaks Apartments. It was something he was used to doing every morning as he walked to class at Brandon High School.
No one knows if he saw the car coming. Before the 15-year-old could make his way across the street, he was pushed off his feet by a Honda Accord.
"I saw the cars pass and next thing I know, boom!" said Courtney Minor, 29, who was standing just steps away from where the accident happened, waiting for the bus to take her 9 and 6-year-old sons to school.
She recognized the boy, having seen him walking before past the bus stop at Parsons Avenue and Summerfield Way. She thought nothing of it Wednesday when he began to cross.
"It's busy, but all the kids I've seen cross will stop and wait to go," Minor said. "It's never been an issue."
Rescue personnel arrived just after 7 a.m. and found Owens lying in the street in front of the car. His legs and lower body took the worst of the hit, officials said.
He was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition.
Benjamin Alexander Bell, 17, was driving the Accord. He was headed north when Owens moved into his path, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said. The car sat parked in the road about 8 a.m. as investigators assessed the crash. A 3-foot dent was visible in the car's hood and front bumper. A pile of clothing lay on the pavement in front of it.
Deputies determined that Bell was driving less than the 45 mph speed limit on that portion of Parsons Avenue when the collision happened. He was not at fault, they said.
"The kid basically just darted out in front of him and he couldn't stop in time," said Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon. "As a pedestrian or bicyclist, you still have to maintain the responsibility of safety."
Bell declined to comment to a reporter, as did Owens' mother, who wept as she watched the crash investigation unfold from the Brandon Oaks parking lot.