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. Senate rejects slimmed down Obamacare repeal as McCain votes no (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Senate early Friday rejected a new, scaled-down Republican plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, derailing the Republicans' seven-year campaign to dismantle President Barack Obama's signature health care law and dealing a huge political setback to President Donald Trump.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017, after a vote as the Republican majority in Congress remains stymied by their inability to fulfill their political promise to repeal and replace "Obamacare" because of opposition and wavering within the GOP ranks. [Associated Press]
  2. Pasco sheriff's team of volunteer Jeep drivers go where few dare

    Public Safety

    Times Staff Writer

    He got the text in the middle of treating patients. He was needed in the morning — and so was his dark blue 2002 Jeep Wrangler.

    The Pasco County Sheriff's Office's newly-formed Volunteer Jeep Search and Rescue Unit stops for a moment to wait for fellow Jeep drivers to catch up during a mock search-and-rescue exercise and off-road training in Shady Hills in June. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. The Daystarter: What's next after Senate rejects Obamacare repeal; Bucs open training camp today; Comic Con invades Tampa; get ready for back to school

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Jermaine Ferguson takes the $5 entry fee from a visitor at Fort De Soto Park on Wednesday. Pasco County has done away with recession era park fees. What about Pinellas and Hillsborough counties? [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. The Killers coming to Hard Rock Live in Orlando

    Blogs

    They're reliable festival headliners, and they're about to embark on a North American arena tour.

    The KIllers
  5. Back to School 2017: What you need to know

    News

    With the start of classes less than three weeks away, the Tampa Bay Times' back-to-school special report debuts today.

    The Times' annual back-to-school coverage debuts today with information families can use to start the new year. [Times files]