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Teen dies when bike hits fence

Published Sep. 2, 2005

Edward Robert Zapor was only 16, but he lived his dreams to the fullest.

Last summer, he cheered at a Manchester United soccer game in England. He took a short nap under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He went to a Metallica concert, with his mother, so he could hear their music the way he preferred it: the louder, the better.

"He always told me, life is short," said his mother, Kitty Zapor. "You've got to take everything you can and there's no reason not to be happy."

On Thursday morning, Zapor's life ended suddenly.

He was traveling south on 98th St. N about 9:48 a.m. when his 2002 Yamaha motorcycle veered off the road, struck a chain-link fence and flipped several times, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Zapor, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown off the bike when it hit the fence.

"I believe he didn't feel any pain," his mother said. "I have no regrets. He lived a very full life. He lived his dreams in a very short time."

Thursday, Zapor got on his motorcycle, a birthday present, and headed to a nearby McDonald's for breakfast with his best friend. After hanging out at Osceola High School, where he was a junior, he headed home.

FHP investigators were not available late Thursday to discuss the circumstances of the crash. But students and teachers said Zapor was going about 60 mph when he left school, where students were taking their finals.

"It was a beautiful day . . . and he got on the throttle a little bit," said Gary Mabe, who taught Zapor world history and owns two motorcycles.

Mabe noticed Thursday that Zapor was wearing Kevlar reinforced gloves and a Yamaha jacket lined with armor for bike riding protection.

"He wore the protective clothing," Mabe said. "He knew how to ride correctly."

Zapor, a self-professed world history buff, was a loyal reader of National Geographic and his world atlas. His friends called him E.R. and he also went by Edd, with two d's, just to be different.

His favorite subject in school after physical education was history, said his mother.

Zapor, who was 6 feet tall and weighed 120 pounds, wasn't cut out for football. But he played defense on the school's soccer team and everything but defense for Largo United Soccer Club.

A few months ago, Zapor found a deal on the Internet for a Yamaha street bike.

"He just loved the freedom of it," Mabe said. "He absolutely loved it. He loved to run. He loved to play soccer. He loved movement."

Mabe said Zapor visited him in class before the accident. He showed a girl the cities in France and Spain he visited during the summer with Mabe's class.

"He just had a very loving personality," said Lachelle Hedge, 17, a friend since kindergarten.

Doug Smith, Osceola High School principal, said Zapor also worked in the school's drama productions and was a member of the multicultural club. He was well-known for his rapport with teachers and his dry sense of humor.

The School Board's crisis team was called in to counsel students.

"It was very tragic, very tragic," Smith said. "It just gives you an appreciation for how valuable our life is, that it can be taken away quickly."

Zapor's mother, an operating room supervisor at St. Petersburg General Hospital, said the weekend before Thanksgiving, her son had attended a memorial service for a friend killed while riding his bike.

She said she was thankful she never missed a chance to tell her son knew how much he was loved.

"Don't hesitate to tell your kids how much you love them," she said. "I did."