Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bloomingdale High student, 16, killed in traffic crash

VALRICO — Zachary McCarthy sang so much that sometimes his parents would have to tell him to stop.

The 16-year-old Bloomingdale High School student sang everywhere — at home, in his car, at school.

"He was always walking around singing," his grandfather, Bill McCarthy, said.

On Wednesday night, that came to an end. Zach McCarthy died from injuries he received when his car hit a tree a few blocks from his Valrico home.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Zach McCarthy was heading west near Natures Way and Golf Meadow boulevards about 9:30 p.m. when, for unknown reasons, he lost control of the car, spun out and slammed into a tree.

He was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died, deputies said. Michaela Faessler, 15, a passenger, was not hurt.

Speed may have been a factor, his father, Doug McCarthy, said, but investigators have not yet determined an exact cause. Another group of friends was in a car nearby, his father said.

A new driver, Zach McCarthy was a straight-A student at Bloomingdale, his mother, Jean McCarthy said. He played trumpet in the band and was a member of the school's chorus group, the Ambassadors.

Briana Beauzile, 16, met Zach McCarthy in band class about three years ago. They've been friends ever since.

"He always had a smile on his face, and he cared about other people a lot more than himself," Beauzile said. "He always looked at the positive side of life."

On Thursday morning, Beauzile left a memento in memory of her friend at the base of the tree where the crash occurred. A collection of lit candles and flowers sitting among shards of glass grew as the day went on.

More than 250 students, friends, family and church members gathered Thursday night for a prayer service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Riverview. Afterward, about 50 people made their way to the tree where the car had crashed to a hold a candlelight vigil.

Emily Foos, 15, a Newsome High School sophomore, was text messaging with Zach until about 10 minutes before the crash. At 9:19 p.m. Wednesday, the teen asked Foos what she was doing.

"He never had any bad moments," Foos said. "He was the nicest kid."

Heather Fagan, 18, a senior at Bloomingdale High, cried as she thought about how Zach McCarthy wouldn't be in her first-period math class when they returned to school Monday.

"He would just go out of his way to help and to make people smile," she said through tears outside the church Thursday night.

Carly Wilkinson's father told her about Zach McCarthy's fatal crash Wednesday night. She had last seen the kid who loved to sing with her brother at church on Sunday. They didn't speak — she assumed there would be more time.

"He was always smiling and that smile was contagious," Wilkinson, 17, a Bloomingdale senior said.

From 5 p.m. to late Thursday, counselors were seeing more than 150 teens at St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Valrico, said Matthew Irwin, the church's high school and youth counselor.

"Really, we were just listening," Irwin said. "We opened our youth house and many of them are at the very beginning stage of grieving. They are just in shock."

Zach McCarthy spent a large part of Wednesday with his father. It happened to be their monthly father-son bonding time, and the two went to dinner and shopping.

On Thursday, his father recalled with a smile the shy boy his outgoing son used to be.

"He was very shy when he was young, very nervous on stage," Doug McCarthy said.

But he had grown to love it, Doug McCarthy said, and hoped to make music his future.

A night out with friends Wednesday changed that.

"He was just on his way to get ice cream," his father said.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2442.

Bloomingdale High student, 16, killed in traffic crash 01/03/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 3, 2013 11:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Monday, July 24

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    At 1.2 million gallons, the house of Harry Barkett in South Tampa used more water than anyone else in the Tampa Bay region between Jan. 1 and May 31 of this year, when Tampa was in a severe drought. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  2. Discovering the true meaning of Black Forest cake in the German region itself

    Cooking

    The first time I had a taste of the Black Forest, it wasn't by way of cake.

    Black Forest Cake in Germany was granted legally protected status in 2013. It must use the gateau’s original ingredients, including kirsch, a brandy made from fermented sour cherries from the region.
  3. Gov. Scott's tough talk on Venezuela may not turn into economic action

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — To show his solidarity with Venezuelans, Gov. Rick Scott held a rally in South Florida and repeatedly promised to punish companies that do business with the Nicolás Maduro regime.

    Gov. Rick Scott held a rally July 10 at El Arepazo restaurant to show solidarity with Venezuelans. Scott has said he wants to punish companies that work with the Nicol?s Maduro regime.
  4. Paralyzed patients in Florida fear losing health care at home

    Health

    TAMPA — After a 1999 car crash left Albert Hort paralyzed, he lived for a while in a nursing home.

    Albert Hort, 54, is a quadriplegic and receives care at his Tarpon Springs apartment, thanks to a special state program.
  5. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.