TAMPA — When Jessie Turner joined the Army, he traded daily conversations with his uncle for weekly phone calls. Sometimes, if Turner was lucky, they would chat twice in a week.
His uncle, James Lloyd Beaupierre, served as a father figure and friend.
"He was there," said Turner, 26, "when I felt like I couldn't speak to anybody else."
On Saturday night, Beaupierre told Turner he was picking up seafood to bring to a party.
Beaupierre, 46, of Tampa never returned home from that party, struck and killed hours later on his motorcycle in a hit-and-run crash in Clair-Mel.
Around 12:40 a.m. Sunday, authorities said Beaupierre was riding north on 78th Street, riding a 1999 Kawasaki Ninja.
At the intersection of 50th Avenue, Beaupierre collided with a vehicle. He wasn't wearing a helmet, according to authorities, and was pronounced dead.
The vehicle fled the crash. Investigators didn't know Sunday what kind of vehicle was involved or which way it was headed.
"I really don't care how it happened," said Beaupierre's 20-year-old son, J'mori. "All I know is he isn't here anymore."
J'mori spoke to the St. Petersburg Times from Georgia; Turner, from Texas. They're both in the Army, the result of recent choices they say made Beaupierre proud. They called often from their basic training stations to check in with the man they described as reliable, patient and wise — a man who worked hard as a mechanic and a father, uniting his family scattered in and around Tampa and his native St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
According to Turner, Beaupierre had two sons in Tampa, a daughter in the Orlando area and two daughters in Tortola, on the British Virgin Islands.
Last year, Beaupierre became a grandfather. He wanted to move the daughter and grandchild to Tampa so they could be closer and get a better education.
Beaupierre advised all of his children to stay in school, because he didn't. And he told them to enjoy life, too, because he did.
Stephanie Wang can be reached at (813) 661-2443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.