Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Friends mourn charismatic teen killed in crash

LUTZ — More than 100 people gathered along the track and prayed for the friend whom they still couldn't believe would never make them laugh, wrestle competitively or sing country songs again.

Friends and teachers held a vigil at Steinbrenner High School's stadium Sunday night to honor senior Frank Vasquez, who died after a driver slammed into and flipped his parked SUV early Saturday.

Vasquez, 17, died Sunday at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, the Florida Highway Patrol said. His girlfriend, Kaylee E. Baer, 16, of Lutz, was last reported in serious condition at St. Joseph's Hospital on Saturday.

The driver, Matthew J. West, 23, who authorities say initially fled the scene, turned himself in at the Pasco County Jail on Saturday. The case is under investigation and no charges have been filed, troopers said.

Friends called Vasquez an outgoing, caring person who had a big heart and was always the center of the party.

"He was the most caring person I ever met, and he always put others before himself," said senior Maresa Gonzalez, who first met Vasquez in sixth grade. "He was always cracking jokes, always making people laugh. He was definitely someone who brought positive energy to every situation."

Vasquez and Gonzalez, 18, volunteered and fed the homeless together every Tuesday through Metropolitan Ministries and their church, Grace Family Church. Gonzalez said Vasquez was striving to better other people's lives.

Vasquez, Baer and Gonzalez joined some other friends at a Keith Urban concert Friday night at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Vasquez loved everything about country music and was always going to concerts, Gonzalez said.

"He's definitely a country boy," Gonzalez said. "I know that before the accident happened, he was having a great time. He went out having a great time."

At the memorial Sunday night, Gonzalez and friends were flooded with emotions, praying for Vasquez's family and Baer's recovery while also sharing memories and stories of Vasquez.

"It's very surreal," Gonzalez said. "I still can't believe he's actually gone. Things are going to be different, but, all in all, our school in general became a lot closer tonight. We put all the drama aside and came together as a big family."

Friends and classmates flooded Twitter on Sunday night with the hashtag #RIPFrank, tweeting pictures of the memorial and sharing stories of their friend.

Vasquez, of Lutz, and Baer had returned from the concert when West hit Vasquez's parked SUV at a dead end on Sunlake Drive, north of County Line Road, about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, crash investigators said.

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2443.

Friends mourn charismatic teen killed in crash 10/06/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 12:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Assault charge may not sway voters in Montana election (w/video)

    Nation

    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

    People fill out ballots for the special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Thursday in Billings, Mont. [Associated Press]
  4. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  5. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.