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Motorcyclist Jake Best's sunset ride ends in fatal crash in Seminole

SEMINOLE — Jake Best did two of his favorite things early Monday evening.

First, he visited his daughter, Meah, at her apartment. Then, he headed to the beach on his beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

"He took a ride to watch the sunset," Meah Best said.

The 51-year-old Largo resident, husband and father of two never made it home.

He died after smashing into a Ford Bronco driven by Richard Lee Brown, 45, of Seminole at 113th Street south of 86th Avenue about 9 p.m., authorities said. Brown wasn't injured. Best used his brakes, but crashed and was thrown from his motorcycle. Pinellas County sheriff's deputies said speed was not a factor in the crash, which they are investigating.

Best, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered leg and head injuries. He died at the scene.

On Tuesday, Best's family was trying to cope. "It doesn't feel real," Meah Best said. "I feel like I'm going to wake up and he'll be here. He was my best friend."

Meah Best called her father, a foreman for Wal-Mark Contracting Group, a joker. He loved the beach, enjoyed spending time with his dogs, Bull and Balou, and was a motorcycle enthusiast who owned three Harleys and regularly attended Bike Week in Daytona Beach.

Most of all, she said, Best was devoted to his wife, Leah, 49, his children, Meah, 21, and Logan, 19, and his niece, Hunter Van Zandt, 14. "My father was just the most amazing person in the world," Meah Best said. "He would help anybody. He would give you the shirt off his back."

According to his daughter, Best lived in Largo for about 20 years after living in Texas. He worked at Wal-Mark for nearly two decades, company spokeswoman Jennifer Acevedo said.

Best's death is the latest of more than a dozen motorcycle fatalities in the area this year.

Services for Best will be held 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the Mohn Funeral Home at 9700 Seminole Blvd. in Seminole.

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at kniebuhr@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4156.

Motorcyclist Jake Best's sunset ride ends in fatal crash in Seminole 03/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 7:27pm]
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