Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Would-be hero dies chasing thieves

TAMPA — When a thief snatched prescription drugs out of a woman's hands in broad daylight Wednesday, two people dashed to help her.

It cost one of them his life.

Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said around 1:30 p.m., the woman left the MD & More Clinic on the corner of W Hillsborough Avenue and Town 'N Country Boulevard.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter described what happened next this way:

As the woman came outside, a man grabbed the pills she'd just bought and jumped into a tan Honda sedan with tinted windows. There was a blond woman behind the wheel.

In the parking lot, a bystander saw the thieves getting away and leaped through their rear window, trying to stop them.

The Honda roared off, banging into another vehicle and knocking the person off the car.

Nearby, Jason R. DeMarzian, 25, of Bradenton saw the chaos unfold and jumped on his motorcycle. He chased after the car as it raced west down Hillsborough Avenue.

Around the same time, a 2006 Ford Explorer pulled out the driveway of a Wing House restaurant.

DeMarzian's motorcycle hit it broadside, slammed to the pavement and caught fire.

Ryan Gorskie, 23, of Tampa is the general manager of Mattress Doctor. He was at his desk working when he heard the sickening thump of a bad collision outside.

He ran out the door, already dialling 911 on the store's cordless phone.

He said he saw that the motorcycle was on fire. The rider was on the ground, not moving.

Gorskie said both the biker's legs obviously were broken.

The couple inside the SUV, Tony and Kelly Agan, covered their faces in shock, he said.

A driver jumped out of a nearby car, grabbed DeMarzian under the arms and dragged him away from the burning cycle. Others in the gathering crowd told him to stop moving the victim.

A few cars back, another man got out of a marked county vehicle and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

Four other people, including a 20-year Tampa police veteran who was buried Wednesday, have died in motorcycle-related crashes in the past two weeks.

Like Master Patrol Officer Victor Guerrero, DeMarzian was not wearing a helmet.

The driver of the Explorer, Tony Agan, turned 29 Wednesday. Neither he nor his wife, who was a passenger in the SUV, returned a call from a Times reporter. No one answered the door at their Carrollwood home.

Meanwhile, officers continue to investigate the theft. Citing privacy laws, officials wouldn't disclose the type of drug the woman bought, and said they weren't sure why the robbers targeted her.

The suspected thief is described as a 6-foot-2, 175-pound white man in his 20s or 30s with a beard. He wore a blue dress shirt, jeans and blue hat.

The driver of the Honda is described as a 5-foot-5, 130-pound white woman with long blond hair. She wore a white shirt and shorts. The Honda had no tags.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 873-TIPS.

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Justin George contributed to this report.
Rodney Thrash can be reached at or
(813) 269-5303.

Would-be hero dies chasing thieves 05/07/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 11, 2008 1:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who's behind the mysterious butt graffiti all over St. Petersburg?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first butts, perhaps, appeared in April on some steps behind the Sundial shopping plaza.

    A photo of the butt graffiti that has been cropping up around St. Petersburg in the past several months. [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | STAFF]
  2. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money


    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  3. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  4. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning


    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  5. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.