Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crossing guard's death a grim reminder of job's dangers

CLEARWATER — Crossing guard Mike Buttice stood at the corner of the intersection and waited for the street light to flicker red.

"Give me a second to get out there and get the traffic stopped," he told a boy heading toward Oak Grove Middle School.

As the bustle of traffic halted at Belcher Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, Buttice strode to the center of the crosswalk, blew his whistle and raised his red stop sign. He motioned toward the boy, who briskly crossed one of the city's busiest intersections.

Buttice knows the danger he and other guards face every day. That message was driven home Tuesday when crossing guard Douglas Carey was killed by a speeding Cadillac.

Despite the danger, But­tice and others said Wednesday that they do their job to keep the city's children safe.

"I love it," he said. "We do get paid for it, but if we didn't I'd still do it."

Every day, they watch as drivers barrel past while talking or texting on phones or running red lights. Last week, a woman turned right onto Belcher from the center lane of Gulf-to-Bay.

"It's the drivers that make it unsafe," Buttice said. "They're doing everything but driving."

Clearwater crossing guard trainer Norm Runkles said an injured guard is rare, though he recalled one whose ear was nipped by the mirror of a truck.

"I know it's a danger, but I don't think about it. I do my job," he said. "I like the kids."

Guards undergo training outlined by the state Department of Transportation. Training includes an eight-hour class, two tests and two evaluations once the guards are stationed at a post.

The Clearwater Police Department employs about 70 guards who work 10 to 20 hours per week for $10.41 per hour.

"They are really the unsung heroes of the community," said Dana Crosby, program administrator for the state's training program. "They're out there trying to keep our babies safe."

On Wednesday, Runkles took one of Carey's posts near Oak Grove Middle and Skycrest Elementary on Cleveland Street.

"He was an awesome guy," Runkles said.

On Tuesday morning, a Cadillac heading west on Gulf-to-Bay ran a red light and collided with a Honda making a left onto Belcher. The impact spun the Cadillac toward Carey, standing at the northwest corner. Carey, a retired Clearwater police officer, died at the scene.

The Cadillac driver, Julious Johnson, ran, leaving behind his injured daughters, ages 2 and 4, police said. He was arrested moments later and remained at the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of $481,000 bail.

His daughters remained at All Children's Hospital, but are expected to recover.

On Wednesday morning, a memorial of flowers, candles, cards and balloons grew at the corner where Carey stood the day before. Drivers tapped their horns and waved at the guards.

"He was just a good guy. He worked with all the kids," said Laney Walker, a mother of three, who added a balloon to the memorial. "He was always smiling, always waving."

A yellow sign at the memorial read: "Thank you to our crossing guard Doug Carey for serving our community and keeping our children safe.

"You are not forgotten."

Times staff researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at or (727) 445-4157.

.Fast facts

Memorial service

The memorial service for Douglas Carey will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Grace Lutheran Church, 1812 N Highland Ave. It will be open to the public

Crossing guard's death a grim reminder of job's dangers 05/21/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 10:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, right, along with her mother Tranda Webb, 62, pose for a photograph Wednesday, at their home in Port Richey. Pasco's former boyfriend John Riggins doused Pasco with gasoline and set her on fire after an argument last year.. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  3. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  4. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  5. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]