Just before the crash that would claim her life, the woman baked a cake.
Days later, it was still sitting on her kitchen table in St. Petersburg, unfrosted and untouched.
On Nov. 4, Alvera Minutello kissed her husband goodbye. The 77-year-old told him she was going to Publix to buy frosting for that cake. She would see him soon, she said.
But 2½ hours later, when he woke up from his nap, she wasn’t there. Andrea Minutello said he knew something was wrong. The 88-year-old called a neighbor to see if his wife had wandered over for a visit, then the police when she was nowhere to be found. Alvera Minutello had been injured in a crash, an officer said, and she was at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg — possibly in critical condition.
A fatal collision
Around the same time that day, Tyler Brady left his apartment complex on his electric scooter.
The 22-year-old moved to the Tampa Bay area a few years ago. For about two years, he said he’s been living with a roommate he met through a business networking event.
Before that, however, Brady struggled to find housing. He’s estranged from his parents, he said, and his grandmother died a month before he turned 18. Brady said that, when she died, he felt like he had lost the only person he had left.
Brady moved in with his younger brother’s adoptive family and later got Section 8 low-income housing, but he soon lost it after the government shutdown of 2018, he said. From there, he spent time couch surfing and housesitting, as he tried to finish school and look for a job.
Recently, Brady had been looking for work. At the time of the crash, he was headed to a friend’s home to help with the friend’s computer business.
Brady was riding east on 18th Avenue N, crossing the intersection with 66th Street N in St. Petersburg. At the same time, Alvera Minutello was riding west, against the flow of traffic, on her bike on 18th Avenue N. Her husband said he had advised her to always ride against traffic as a safety measure. She was as close as possible to the curb, police said.
According to police, Brady was traveling at a speed of about 17 or 18 mph and noticed Minutello from about 80 feet away. At that speed and distance, he would have had about three seconds to react.
Brady’s scooter and Minutello’s bicycle collided head-on, investigators said. Minutello suffered heavy bleeding to her brain stem, a broken eye socket and multiple broken ribs, according to a police report.
“It was really scary,” Brady said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Neither Brady nor Minutello was wearing a helmet, said St. Petersburg police spokesperson Ken Knight.
On Nov. 8, Alvera Minutello died of her injuries. Brady was charged with manslaughter the next day. In his arrest affidavit, police said Brady admitted to directly running into Minutello, without making any effort to avoid her or slow down.
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In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Brady said that’s not true. He said he was trying to explain to officers that he couldn’t have taken any action by the time he saw her.
“It was too late,” he said in an interview from the Pinellas County Jail. “It was just bad reflexes.”
Knight said the St. Petersburg Police Department could not release conversations between Brady and officers, as the investigation is still active.
Investigators initially said that the majority of the eastbound lane of 18th Avenue N was open. But Brady’s arrest report said Minutello possibly had pulled up next to the curb to allow both Brady and an eastbound car to pass.
A couple of days after the crash, Brady published multiple Facebook posts about bicyclists, most of which are no longer visible on his public Facebook page. He said in a Facebook comment that he was looking for cyclists on the sidewalk or the side of the road in the Tyrone Mall area. The shopping center is in the vicinity of the crash.
Brady told the Times he was trying to understand the law about whether bicyclists were allowed to use sidewalks. He said he has no issues with cyclists.
It generally is legal to bike on a sidewalk in Florida as long as the rider yields to pedestrians, according to Florida state law. In St. Petersburg, electric scooters aren’t allowed on sidewalks.
But the legality of bicycles and scooters on sidewalks didn’t factor into the crash. The collision between Brady and Minutello happened on the road, according to police, and on that side of 18th Avenue N, there is no sidewalk.
When riding on the road, bicyclists typically have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle drivers, said Tampa defense attorney Joel Elsea. That means riding against traffic, as police said Minutello was doing, is illegal. That could muddle the case against Brady.
“He’s getting charged because she was a wrong-way driver,” Elsea said.
An officer also wrote in Brady’s arrest report that Minutello had pulled to the curb to allow Brady “and possibly another eastbound vehicle” to pass. If there was another vehicle in the road, besides Minutello’s bicycle, it would make sense that Brady would want to be close to the curb, too, for his own safety, Elsea said.
“The question is,” Elsea said, “Could he have stopped it? And if so, did he have a legal obligation to do that?”
Electric scooters have exploded in popularity in recent years as scooter rental companies have cropped up in cities across the country. That includes St. Petersburg, which has had a scooter rental program for about a year.
Brady was operating a privately owned scooter, according to Evan Mory, St. Petersburg’s director of transportation and parking management.
While city data doesn’t include private scooters, there have been 11 crashes involving rental scooters since the program started, according to police department data provided by Mory. They include a scooter rider who lost their balance and fell, several who hit vehicles or were hit by them, and two incidents where scooters struck pedestrians. About half resulted in injuries — none of them fatal.
Brady said he wishes he could have swapped places with Minutello, and that he could’ve been the one who was hit. He said he only wants to walk places or take the bus from now on.
“I’m so sorry for this,” he said.
Alvera Minutello was born during World War II. Her family, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, were taken to a labor camp in Germany during the Holocaust. The family immigrated to the United States after her aunt sponsored them.
She met her husband when she was 20. Alvera and Andrea Minutello moved to Florida in 1973 to be closer to Andrea Minutello’s parents. They originally moved to a South Pasadena neighborhood, but they eventually made their way up to the Tyrone Mall area, where Alvera Minutello met her neighbor, Dusty Hunt, at a garage sale. The two women became inseparable and made many friends at a local Elks Lodge where they took water aerobics classes.
“We did everything together,” Hunt, 73, said. The two enjoyed shopping, baking and exercising together.
“You’d always see us together,” Hunt added.
Alvera Minutello was a healthy woman who was very active, friends and family said. She was known for her cooking, from fish to pork chops to hamburgers and Ukrainian food. At parties, Minutello was known for bringing Jell-O shots, purchased from the Elks Lodge, and arranging to get cakes for gatherings.
Kathy Mitcheson met Alvera Minutello through Hunt several years ago. Alvera Minutello quickly integrated into a group of Mitcheson’s friends who regularly met for coffee.
“When she saw you, she didn’t even say, ‘hi,’ ” Mitcheson said. “She started laughing first, like she was so tickled pink to see you.”
Mitcheson turned 66 on Nov. 9. Minutello had baked a cake for Mitcheson’s birthday. It was the same cake Minutello was planning to frost when she set out for Publix on the day of the crash.
A week after the crash, Mitcheson knew the cake was still sitting in her friend’s kitchen, but didn’t know what flavor it was.
She said she’s not sure she wants to know.
Times staff writer Kathryn Varn contributed to this report.