Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

16-year-old Hudson boy dies in ATV crash

HUDSON — Scott Jaycox burned out Tuesday evening on U.S. 19, riding his dirt bike hard until the pavement bore a black line and smoke blotted the sky.

A crowd of young people cheered. A few ran into the lanes and waved to stop the rush of oncoming traffic. The group had gathered at the nearby corner gas station to honor Dakota Merrell, 16, who was raised around the bend.

Merrell was killed earlier Tuesday when he was hit by a van while he crossed U.S. 19 on his 2006 Honda all-terrain vehicle. The crash occurred about 1:10 p.m. just south of Bolton Avenue.

Merrell, who was not wearing a helmet, died at the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol reported. Troopers said the driver of the Chrysler van that hit him was David Lane Diehl, 66, of Spring Hill. The crash was still under investigation late Tuesday.

Family members and dozens of friends came to the intersection where the crash occurred on Tuesday evening to remember Merrell. Many shared his love of riding bikes and ATVs and had arms and legs mottled by gashes and scars to prove it.

"Saturday morning, we're all going to pile up and ride!" yelled Jaycox, 28.

"We're going to throw some dust up for him," chimed in Cori Martin, 17, of Hudson.

Merrell's mother — Veronica Merrell, 35, of Hudson — wailed at the evening vigil, shaking as the group released a multicolor bouquet of balloons marked up with messages to Merrell.

"He was my youngest," Merrell said. "He was my baby, my everything."

William Merrell, 38, his father, stood next to her, holding his wife, Michelle Merrell, 25, and crying. He remembered his son as a "country boy" who loved the band Florida Georgia Line and smoked red L&M shorts.

A few nights before he died, Merrell's friend, William Johnson, 19, told him to straighten up, he said.

"I told him, 'dude, you gotta go back to school,' " said Johnson. "He knew it. He wanted to."

Merrell would have been a sophomore in high school, said his youth pastor, Jason Milot of Harvest Baptist Church in Hudson.

"He was a good kid, outgoing," said Milot.

After the balloons floated above distant trees, Travis Brigner, 18, revved a jacked-up yellow Jeep down Bolton Avenue. Cheers, again, erupted.

"Dakota always wanted to hear this thing run," said Brigner.

16-year-old Hudson boy dies in ATV crash 08/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Liquor wall' staying up in Florida after Gov. Scott's veto


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's liquor wall, which was been around since Prohibition ended, will remain standing after a bill to tear it down was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.

  2. To catch a poacher: Florida wildlife officers set up undercover gator farm sting


    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, state wildlife officers created the ultimate undercover operation.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  3. Trump has Mar-a-Lago employee working on government trip, report says


    The following is from Buzzfeed News:

    A top Mar-a-Lago employee is also working for the government to help prepare for President Trump's visit to Taormina, Italy, for the G-7 Summit — an unconventional arrangement that further blurs the line between the president's business empire and the White House.

  4. Manchester bombing victims include at least 7 parents


    LONDON — The world has been horrified by how young many of the victims in the Manchester bombing were, but on Wednesday, attention shifted to parents of concertgoers who were also killed. Seven have been identified, among them a couple who left behind two orphaned daughters.

  5. Richard Corcoran has a new committee to help him become governor


    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has opened a new political committee, Watchdog PAC, that may or may not bankroll his campaign for governor in 2018. The Land O'Lakes Republica

  6. More