Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

Parents of teen who crashed into bay: 'Let our cry serve as an alert to you'

TAMPA — On the May night Michael Agana crashed his car through the Bayshore Boulevard balustrade and into Hillsborough Bay, police made a specific request to a medical examiner: Be sure to test for LSD.

Agana, 19, a Plant High School graduate and University of South Florida student, was declared dead five days after the May 11 crash.

Police said he and a friend had spent that day at Busch Gardens. He had just dropped off the friend before barreling down a South Tampa street in his Toyota Camry and into the bay.

The cause of the crash has remained a mystery for two months, although the medical examiner's report shows police detectives had suspicions May 11.

The results of that and other drug tests were released this week. They show Agana had LSD and marijuana in his system.

"The amount of LSD was consistent with an LSD user," said Julia Pearson, the chief toxicologist for the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office.

While the crash investigation remains open, a police spokeswoman said this week that the finding of drugs was "clearly a contributing factor."

Agana's parents, Jennifer and Alvin Agana, this week issued a heart-wrenching statement in response, imploring other parents to learn from this experience.

It says:

"As the parents of a talented, intelligent and aspiring young man, we are overwhelmed by the death of our son, Michael A. Agana.

"Gone is the little boy who sat at the piano for lessons at the tender age of 5. We've lost our drummer, our hockey player, the future engineer of our family – and we've lost the joy, the smiles and the absolute delight of a life lived so passionately, so fully, so enthusiastically and yet so humbly.

"As parents, we are still screaming with agony inside. And, as parents, we want other parents and their delicate, precious, curious and adventurous children to hear us. Let our cry serve as an alert to you.

"Michael's accident shocked and confused our family and friends, and without an explanation, we were all left with only frustration, great sadness and bewilderment.

"Our loss penetrated our lives deeply, and we struggled to accept the unresolved mystery of Michael's death. Our need for answers was almost overpowering. In our quest to learn more about what might have happened, we discovered an answer, but it's not a satisfying or comforting explanation because it only raises more questions that will remain unanswered.

"Since the accident occurred, we learned that our son – our rising star – was experimenting with designer drugs. If you knew Michael at all, then we know you share our shock and exasperation at this news. Our own grief and sorrow, barely containable, escalated to include disappointment, more confusion and sometimes even anger.

"Knowing his personality, his character, his integrity and all he brought to this world, it's hard to imagine Michael in a situation where he was presented with the choice of accepting drugs. It's even more difficult to consider him saying 'yes' and then impairing his judgment to such extremes.

"Imagining him in these situations is unbearable to us as parents because there were never any signs or indications that our son — our good student, our boy who was involved in school, church and sports and loved by so many — would ever compromise his morals or relinquish control of his actions to the unknown effects of a drug.

"But if we know anything now, it's that reality is harsh. Reality will take away a young life, and reality will tempt and conquer the better judgment of a well-raised, respectable child.

"Like almost every parent we know, we never thought this would happen to our child. There were no warning signs, and we have not yet figured out if there was a chance we could have somehow helped curb the curiosity and destructive behavior of our son. We communicated. We were involved in Michael's life. He spent time with us, and yet we never had a glimpse of anything unusual going on in his life.

"We still don't have answers to why our son made this mistake, but we do want to raise the awareness of other parents to check, double-check and re-check with their kids on their activities and friends. We have learned that nothing should be assumed or taken for granted, and we simply hope our message makes a difference in preventing other tragedies for other families."

"We are eternally grateful that no one else was injured in Michael's accident, and we are working with the appropriate authorities to find a way to reach other kids who might be in danger of succumbing to the same influences that took the life of our son.

"Eventually, we will find a way to make peace with this unexpected, traumatic situation in our lives. But for now, we take refuge in the hope that we can help even one person by sharing this message."

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