LARGO — John F. Prado was a man who loved cars, motorcycles and family.
He worked as a mechanic at AutoWay Honda on U.S. 19 and visited car shows on his days off.
Early Friday morning, Prado, 21, died when his red Yamaha sports bike slammed into the side of a pickup truck.
Heather Lynn Cook, his passenger and friend, was thrown to the ground. Cook, 20, was in critical condition Friday at Bayfront Medical Center.
News of the crash shook Prado's family and friends.
"John was a good kid, supporting and very loving," said his sister Lilian Prado, 28. "He was a loving, very happy, fun kid. He was always making jokes and smiling."
Cousin Ruben Posso got the call at 5 a.m. saying Prado had died.
"He always wanted to succeed in life," Posso said. "He worked to manage to get his mom a better life."
He thinks Prado was driving Cook home when the crash happened, but the family is not sure.
According to Largo police, Prado and his passenger were headed south on Ridge Road SW at 1:58 a.m. A Chevy pickup driven by James E. Laier, 56, of Largo was trying to cross traffic from a stop sign on Lakeside Drive.
The bike slammed into the side of the pickup's extended cab.
Laier and his passenger suffered minor injuries.
Sgt. George Edmiston said traffic investigators were looking at whether speed or alcohol contributed to the crash. He said beer from the pickup had fallen out on the ground after the crash, but police have not determined whether either driver was intoxicated.
No charges have been filed.
Prado was born in Elizabeth, N.J., and attended high school there. He moved to Florida a few years ago and attended technical school in Pinellas.
At the time of his death, Prado was living with his mother, Gloria Posso, in High Point.
He was devoted to his 7-year-old niece, Karen Correa, happily passing up an opportunity to go out with his friends when he was needed as a babysitter, Lilian Prado said. He took his niece to the mall and Chuck E. Cheese.
"She was his life. That was like his own kid," she said.
Recently, Prado visited a military recruiter, his sister said.
"He wanted to join the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force … to better himself or help out," his sister said. "He was always looking forward, to move ahead."
She said it was a way for him to go to school to become a mechanical engineer.
Since his death Friday morning, the phone has been ringing constantly with calls from his friends in New Jersey.
"He was just a great friend," his sister said.
Funeral services are tentatively scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Jonathan Abel can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4157.