Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Even after death, he gave to help others

PLANT CITY — Charles T. Pearson drove bulldozers. He hunted and fished, and had a girlfriend who drove a motorcycle.

When his mother worried about him riding it, the free-spirited 28-year-old answered in his usual upbeat tone: "I'm an organ donor. It's okay."

His mother remembered his words Saturday morning, when she got the phone call about the hit-and-run accident.

Mr. Pearson had been driving, his girlfriend sitting beside him, when a car hit the back of his 1988 Chevy station wagon just after 2 a.m., causing him to lose control.

The couple, not wearing seat belts, were ejected onto U.S. 92.

The driver who hit them ran away, leaving the car behind.

Mr. Pearson died at Tampa General Hospital nine hours later. His 21-year-old girlfriend, Lisa Vaught, survived, with stitches and a fractured back.

They had gone to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings that night, she said. They were driving home because he had to work the next morning.

The Florida Highway Patrol spent that morning searching for the other driver who deserted the 1995 Volkswagen four-door vehicle.

On Sunday, family members said they'd been told a male teenager was tracked down, but the Florida Highway Patrol had not confirmed an arrest.

"I'm mad at the person who did this for being so irresponsible and fleeing the scene," Vaught said. "He destroyed so many people's lives, and took one of the most amazing people I've ever met."

Mr. Pearson, who graduated from Plant City High School, served in the U.S. Army and then had a career in construction, "would do anything for anyone," his sister April Bass said.

His final contribution, to three different recipients:

His liver, his kidneys and his heart.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.

Even after death, he gave to help others 09/07/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 10:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  3. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  4. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494
  5. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 139, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]