TAMPA — Before Friday, Eric Jordan and Aaron Davis were just two friends who enjoyed the road.
"They were just out riding around, two inexperienced motorcycle riders," said Roger Lavalley, 49, Jordan's uncle. "And an accident happened."
The men, both from Riverview, had been traveling east on Interstate 4 that day at about 3:30 p.m. when their bikes collided.
Jordan, 35, was thrown from his Yamaha over the side of the interstate and fell 100 feet to the ground, onto N 50th Street, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He later died from his injuries at Tampa General Hospital.
Davis, 29, pulled over his Kawasaki and looked down from the overpass, as shown in a recording of the incident circulating on social media Saturday. Then he left the scene, state troopers said, leaving behind his female passenger, 30-year-old Amy Renee Jones of Dover, who told troopers that she "barely knew" the man.
The Highway Patrol called the incident a hit-and-run because Davis left. Troopers had been asking the public to help find him before investigators identified him and he contacted them. But Lavalley doesn't think Davis is a villain, and he doesn't think the collision was intentional.
"They were real good friends. It wasn't road rage or anything like that," Lavalley said.
He added, "I don't think Aaron should get 100 percent of the blame."
That's because both Davis and Jordan were weaving through traffic that afternoon, the footage spreading online shows. As the two bikes got to the right lane on Interstate 4, Jordan appeared to clip the back tire of Davis' motorcycle, which sent Jordan toward the wall and over the side.
Friends of both men emphasized on social media that the incident appeared to have been an accident. Jordan had only been riding motorcycles for about a year, Lavalley said. He may have been taking after his father, Billy Jordan, who was Lavalley's brother. Lavalley said the elder Jordan rode motorcycles before he died in 2012.
Lavalley described his nephew as a polite, good-natured man. He found it hard to say much more so soon after the crash, especially because he had taught Jordan as a boy how to ride a bicycle, he said.
"He knew the dangers," Lavalley said of his nephew taking up motorcycle riding. "But that slips away once you get out riding, having fun."
As of Saturday night, Davis hadn't been arrested. But troopers said he could face charges for leaving the scene.
Times senior researcher Caryn Baird and staff writers Howard Altman and Jamal Thalji contributed to this report. Contact Justin Trombly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @JustinTrombly.