Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Witness recalls Port Richey crash that killed teenager, injured three others

A ribbon and flowers from friends mark a charred tree Saturday on Lake Forest Circle in Port Richey, where Kevin Monaco, 16, died when he apparently lost control of the van he was driving.

SHELLEY ROSSETTER | Times

A ribbon and flowers from friends mark a charred tree Saturday on Lake Forest Circle in Port Richey, where Kevin Monaco, 16, died when he apparently lost control of the van he was driving.

PORT RICHEY — Jennifer Paige heard the squeal of tires first. Then, a loud boom.

By the time she got to the end of her driveway, flames were visible. A van had hit a tree dead on, branches sprouting out where the windshield should have been.

Inside, four teenagers screamed for help.

Paige's father, Jim Dowd, grabbed a crowbar and called 911. Paige began smashing windows. One by one, she pulled the three passengers out, dragging them away from the flames.

"The car was so hot, I was burned just touching it," said Paige, 39. "I have never seen a fire spread so quick. There was no time to wait."

Dowd, 70, tried to pry the driver's door open. When that failed, he reached in and tried to drag 16-year-old Kevin Monaco out through the window.

"He was awake, he was lucid and just talking, asking us to get him out," Paige said through tears Saturday as she recounted the events Friday afternoon.

Something was pinning him inside, she said. They were unable to save him.

"I just wish we could have done more," Paige said.

The accident occurred Friday about 3 p.m., when Monaco, of Port Richey, lost control of his van on a curve of Lake Forest Circle, near Lake Forest Drive, the Florida Highway Patrol said. The Dodge Caravan flew to the shoulder of the road, hit a tree and caught fire, troopers said.

Back seat passengers Michael Morgan, 17, and Megan Kahn, 16, were taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. Kahn was released Friday night, and Morgan was in stable condition Saturday afternoon. Front seat passenger Jamie Florio, 16, was transported to Tampa General Hospital where she was in serious condition Saturday night.

The crash is still under investigation, troopers said. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor.

All three passengers attend Ridgewood High School in New Port Richey, troopers said. Monaco was home-schooled, they said.

A man who identified himself as Monaco's father said the family was dealing with the tragedy and wished to be left alone.

Monaco's passengers suffered burns and possibly broken bones, Dowd said. Dowd and Paige said the van's engine appeared to be shoved against Monaco's legs.

"From the waist down, he couldn't move at all," Paige said. "There was no way to get him out."

Even though she was able to help save three lives, Paige said Monaco's last moments will haunt her forever.

"I just keep thinking about his mom," said Paige, who has children about the same age. "I'm going to see his face the rest of my life."

Times news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401.

Witness recalls Port Richey crash that killed teenager, injured three others 04/05/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 6, 2014 1:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. PolitiFact Florida checks out Rick Baker's talking point about the growth of St. Petersburg's A-rated schools

    Elections

    Rick Baker has used mailers, forums and social media to relay one big message in his campaign for St. Petersburg mayor: Schools in St. Petersburg saw drastic improvements when he was mayor from 2001 to 2010.

    Rick Baker, candidate for St. Petersburg mayor
  2. Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelly talks family, songwriting and more before Tampa show

    Music & Concerts

    A while back at the Grammys, Charles Kelley found himself in the same room as Paul McCartney. The Lady Antebellum singer, a seven-time Grammy winner in his own right, couldn't work up the courage to say hello.

    Lady Antebellum perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday. Credit: Eric Ray Davidson
  3. Clearwater suspect due in court after 9 die in sweltering San Antonio truck

    Nation

    SAN ANTONIO — Nine people are dead and the death toll could rise after emergency crews pulled dozens of people from a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart in the midsummer Texas heat, victims of what officials said was an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong.

    San Antonio police officers investigate the scene where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in San Antonio. [Associated Press]
  4. What you need to know for Monday, July 24

    News

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

    At 1.2 million gallons, the house of Harry Barkett in South Tampa used more water than anyone else in the Tampa Bay region between Jan. 1 and May 31 of this year, when Tampa was in a severe drought. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  5. Discovering the true meaning of Black Forest cake in the German region itself

    Cooking

    The first time I had a taste of the Black Forest, it wasn't by way of cake.

    Black Forest Cake in Germany was granted legally protected status in 2013. It must use the gateau’s original ingredients, including kirsch, a brandy made from fermented sour cherries from the region.