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Family and classmates grieve and remember a Tampa boy who died on his bicycle

TAMPA — They called him June Bug and Sapo, Spanish for frog.

"He hops like a frog," said his younger brother, Donté Lebron.

He was a good big brother, helpful with chores, often making coffee in the mornings for his parents.

Bryan Lebron Jr., went riding on his bike Wednesday with his brother and their father, Bryan Lebron Sr. As they tried to cross Dale Mabry Highway at W Bay Avenue, young Bryan lagged behind. He tried to catch up to Donté and his father, who made it to the median, and ended up in the path of a 2002 Kia driven by Kayla Arnold, 16, a junior at Robinson High.

An ambulance took him to Tampa General Hospital, where he died. He was 11.

The boys and their father had been on their way to Blockbuster to rent games. They had taken the day off from school, planning to go to Busch Gardens. When their van wouldn't start, they decided to play video games.

Bryan was the second boy to die on Tampa's streets this week. A car struck and killed Mitchell Bowers, 12, of Lutz on Tuesday as he rode his bike along Van Dyke Road. Neither boy had been wearing a helmet.

Born in Tampa, Bryan went to Chiaramonte Elementary School in second, third and fourth grades. This year the family moved and he switched to West Shore Elementary for the fifth grade, and made the honor roll, said his mother, Kandy Lebron.

On Thursday, Marie Valenti, principal at Chiaramonte, invited students who knew Bryan to meet with her. About two dozen children shared memories of Bryan, held hands and looked at the sky. Valenti told them Bryan was now an angel in heaven. Valenti gave Bryan's family $500 to help with funeral expenses from money the school earns for renting space for a cell phone tower.

His teacher last year, Shannon Abbott, remembered him as a smart, creative boy liked by everybody. He once told a story about escaping from bullies, which everyone believed before Abbott got the truth from him: He had made it up.

"It was his infectious smile," she said. "That's what you remember about Bryan."

Tampa police said officers responded to the scene Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. Arnold had been driving south on Dale Mabry Highway when the collision occurred. She was not cited.

She had attended Chiaramonte Elementary School too.

Bryan's mother said the family was close. The boys shared a bunk bed. Bryan had the top where a big stuffed green frog remains, along with an open book: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Donté listed his brother's favorite things: basketball and the colors red, blue and black.

What did he like most?

"Me," Donté said.

Survivors include Bryan's mother, Kandy; father Bryan Sr.; brother Donté, 8; and sisters Izabella, 5, and Jazzmin, 2. Services are Sunday at 7 p.m. at Gonzalez Funeral Home, 7209 N Dale Mabry Highway.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at (813) 226-3431 or eparker@sptimes.com.

Family and classmates grieve and remember a Tampa boy who died on his bicycle 01/29/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 11:53pm]
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