Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Public safety

Pasco mother, deputies seek answers in beating of man

NEW PORT RICHEY — They were waiting at a red light on Feb. 5 when the white truck pulled up in the next lane.

The three men in the white Expedition yelled over to Tom Flanigan, 31, who sat in his blue 2005 ragtop Ford Mustang with his girlfriend, Melissa MacArthur, also 31, waiting for the green, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report says.

The men wanted a race.

Flanigan said no.

Then they wanted a fight.

Flanigan headed for the home he shares with MacArthur at 3815 Latimer St., in the Beacon Hill neighborhood just south of State Road 54. The truck followed.

He pulled into the driveway, jumped out and faced the men, the sheriff's report said. He said he had their tag number. They left.

MacArthur told deputies she went inside. Flanigan stayed in the driveway to lock the car.

A few minutes later, she heard a knock at the door. It was a neighbor saying he'd heard men arguing in the driveway, then what sounded like someone being hit by a car, the report states.

She saw her boyfriend crumpled in the driveway.

Blood was seeping from his mouth and knuckles. A large bruise swelled his head.

A deputy who responded to the scene wrote in the report that all Flanigan could say as he laid in the driveway was "Please."

He was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, where he's been unconscious for the past nine days, under medical sedation, said his mother, Mary Ann Nash.

Because of the brain swelling, doctors had to remove a quarter of his skull. He used a breathing tube until Tuesday morning, when doctors cut a tracheotomy.

Nash said she and MacArthur, who did not return a call for this story, now spend eight to 10 hours a day by his side in the intensive care unit.

Flanigan doesn't respond to voice commands. Only pinches and being shaken. In response, he moves his limbs, slightly. The right side of his body is weaker because of the damage to the left side of his brain, Nash said. The side that controls language and comprehension.

She said doctors haven't told her much about when he'll recover and get back to his job putting aluminum awnings on schools. She was told by one doctor that the piece of Flanigan's skull will be replaced in one to six months.

Judging from Flanigan's bloody knuckles after the incident, his mother thinks the son she described as "laid back" but with "a few crazy moments" went down swinging.

Officials are calling the incident an aggravated battery. No arrests have been made. There were no witnesses.

Above all, Nash just wants to know why.

She and deputies hope someone will come forward with information.

"It doesn't matter whether there was a confrontation or not," she said. "No one deserves this."

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