1. News

St. Petersburg High senior hit, killed by cars on Gulf Boulevard

Patrick McLean, 17, was a senior at St. Petersburg High School who wanted to go to FSU.
Published Mar. 23, 2014

Four teenage boys sat with waters in front of them at the IHOP in St. Pete Beach. Outside, below the neon "No Vacancy" signs, the sidewalks were crowded with people stumbling and drinking in the spring break spirit. Shortly before 1 a.m., the restaurant was empty except for the boys. Waiter Christina Brodeur readied to take their order, but before she could, a car pulled into the parking lot with a shattered windshield.

"Oh my goodness," Brodeur said. "I think they hit someone."

The boys held their menus in their hands. They peered out the windows to Gulf Boulevard where a crowd gathered on the street.

Then one boy asked, "You think that might be Patrick?"

• • •

One last spring break before all the friends went their separate ways. That's what 17-year-old Patrick McLean and his buddies planned — senior year, the last hurrah. The beach. The girls. A room to themselves on a Friday night at the Postcard Inn.

At St. Petersburg High School earlier that day, during lunch, a group of friends circled their chairs in the classroom around Erin Phelps' desk. Phelps taught advanced health exploration, but she was also the cheerleader coach. Her girls hung out there, so that's where McLean and his friends hung out too.

McLean was the type of kid who said hello to everyone as they passed in the halls, even to the teachers. Polite, funny, always with a smile and brown eyes that seemed to glow, is how people remember him.

Graduation was only a few months away, and the boys in Phelps' class talked about it like it was the first creaks of a prison door swinging open. Originally, McLean hoped to attend Florida State University and study medicine.

"He wanted to be an ER doctor," Patti McLean, his mother, said. "Thinking on your feet, being there to help people, that was him — to be in the middle of it all."

His older brother and best friend, Nick, was already at FSU. But the week before, McLean had received a rejection letter in the mail.

McLean got five A's and a couple B's last semester, his parents said. He was bright, and when the class read Shakespeare's Macbeth, his English literature teacher noticed he could recall almost exactly the scenes and dialogue.

"He could remember details from stories without having notes," his teacher Tracey Keim said. "I always thought that was rather uncanny."

But after transferring from St. Petersburg Catholic High School in 10th grade he spent a year messing around and it dropped his GPA. Didn't matter. He'd get to FSU one day. Already he'd enrolled at Tallahassee Community College, rented an apartment and hoped to transfer to the university shortly.

The lease starts may 15th #tallybound wit my boy @patm727, a friend posted on his Twitter feed.

On Fridays, before letting her students go, Phelps always said the same thing: "No drinking and driving, or smoking and driving, or doing any of it at all."

That day, McLean finished the phrase for her.

And then he and his friends were off — just teenagers about to graduate with the life and world waiting for them to chase it. But first, spring break.

• • •

McLean's friends at the IHOP dropped their menus and ran out the door with the waiter.

McLean had been walking on the west side of Gulf Boulevard to join his friends when he stepped from the curb in the middle of the block.

First, Patsy Harris, 50, hit the teenager with her 2011 Hyundai. A woman ran into the street to help and stop traffic. McLean lay on the pavement. Then a 2008 Volkswagen driven by Sean Daniel, 27, ran over McLean once more. Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies said both drivers "showed signs of impairment."

The accident is still under investigation.

By the time McLean's friends joined the crowd outside, McLean lay motionless and face down. The ambulance arrived.

"They didn't even take the stretcher out," Brodeur said.

• • •

Shortly after, a sheriff's deputy knocked on a door in St. Petersburg. The mother and father rose from their beds.

"I have the worst possible news I could give to a parent," the deputy said.

Patti McLean's world broke.

"After that I don't know what he said. I heard parts. All I knew was that Patrick was gone."


  1. Less than a month after being fired, former St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love wants the agency to give him a job running its development nonprofit at the same $157,000 salary. That offer, part of ongoing negotiations over his severance, was rejected by the agency's board.
    Tony Love’s attorney tells the agency that fired him he wants full salary and benefits through 2020. The board rejects his offer.
  2. John Jonchuck returned to a Pinellas County courtroom last month to attend a hearing about whether he was entitled to a new trial. A judge on Tuesday ruled that he is not. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Jonchuck was convicted of first-degree murder in April. He dropped his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe Jonchuck, off a bridge in 2015.
  3. Ralph Lewis Wald and wife Johnna Lynn Flores leave the Orient Road Jail on May 30, 2013, after Wald was acquitted in the fatal shooting of his wife's lover. [TIMES (2013)]  |  Tampa Bay Times
    An unidentified woman is found dead at their Brandon house. At the same time, the medical examiner confirms the wife has died.
  4. The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County identified a positive case of hepatitis A in a food service worker at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City on Oct. 22, 2018. [JOSH FIALLO | Times] JOSH FIALLO | TIMES  |  JOSH FIALLO | Times
    Slightly more than 200,000 people have been vaccinated this year — a huge jump from the 49,324 people vaccinated in all of 2018.
  5. This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. [Photo courtesy of NOAA] NOAA
    Nearly a year after the storm, 18,000 claims are still open.
  6. Falo Kane, 32, of Clearwater, faces four counts of sexual battery of a physically helpless person and a violation of probation charge, according to police. [CLEARWATER POLICE DEPARTMENT]  |  Clearwater Police Department
    There were four victims, police said. One was in a wheelchair and another was a disabled stroke patient. The accused wrote a letter of apology.
  7. An eighth-grade boy can be seen punching a seventh-grader in a locker room in this screenshot from a video taken inside a Polk County middle school. Twitter
    A black student was slammed to the floor and punched repeatedly by a white classmate following a physical education class last week at Blake Academy in Lakeland.
  8. Workers refuel the tank at a gas station in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump declared Monday that it "looks" like Iran was behind the explosive attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. He stressed that military retaliation was not yet on the table in response to the strike against a key U.S. Mideast ally. AMR NABIL  |  AP
    Even before Tuesday’s reversal in prices, economists downplayed the prospect that the price spike could send the economy reeling.
  9. Watermans Crossing apartments at 4515 N. Rome Avenue in Tampa. Westside Capital Group
    Jakub Hejl discovered the Tampa Bay area while studying at IMG Academy.
  10. Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace has 183 more students this school year than last. Middle schools grew in enrollment this year, while elementary schools lost more than 1,200 students.  [Times | 2013]
    The 20 day count shows ever more crowding in southeast Hillsborough.