1. Archive

Teen's memory brought home

(ran PC edition)

The new Bret Ferguson Road runs in sight of his family's house and in front of the neighbors' lawns he used to mow.

The helium balloon circled lazily, lifting up into the clear blue sky.

"Welcome home!" it read, the words getting smaller and smaller until the crowd gathered Friday afternoon at Spring Hill Drive and the newly named Bret Ferguson Road could not read it anymore.

The moment, although brief, was meaningful for the family of Bret "B.J." Ferguson, who would have turned 19 Friday if he had not been killed in an April motorcycle accident weeks before he was set to graduate from high school.

The teen's father, Pasco County sheriff's Deputy Bert Ferguson, said the months since his son's death have been intensely difficult. But he added that the ceremony, which renamed the northern part of Fairview Road after his son, was a step forward in the healing process.

"We're bringing him home," the father said, pointing down the street to the family's house. "We can look out our window, and he's there."

Ferguson added that the newly named road was a permanent recognition of all that his son did in life. The teen was a member of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office Explorer Post, the National Honor Society at Springstead High School, and he donated many hours of his time to community service projects.

Despite this, renaming the road, which is lined with neighbors' lawns that Bret used to mow, came with some difficulty.

Initially, the family tried to rename the road near where Bret was killed _ Deborah Drive _ for him. He had been driving his new motorcycle west on Spring Hill Drive when a driver turning right off Deborah did not see him coming and turned in front of him, according to Florida Highway Patrol officials. The driver was cited for failure to yield the right of way, although the matter is still pending in court.

But neighbors at Deborah were resistant _ some because they had businesses there and didn't want the change. Others were hesitant because, they said, the teen was known to speed around on his motorcycle.

On the day of the crash, troopers estimate Bret was going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone.

The teen's father does not think speed was a factor in the crash.

What Bert Ferguson really blames is the wall on Deborah Drive that blocks drivers' view of traffic on Spring Hill Drive, he said. The wall, which is on private property, extends past the stop sign at the intersection, and he thinks it should be demolished or lowered.

So far, the county has declined to require the homeowner to do so. County engineers who have visited the site say it meets state standards.

Ferguson hopes the county will change its mind.

"It may pass state standards, but it's still dangerous," he said.