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Victim in fatal crash on I-75 known for kindness, youthful spirit

Published Feb. 14, 2014

James Dylan Proctor was on his way home after a night watching Trey Anastasio, the lead singer of the rock band Phish, perform at the House of Blues in Orlando on Tuesday.

Proctor, 42, made time for the concert despite his hectic schedule juggling work as a respiratory therapist at Doctor's Hospital in Sarasota and going to school at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. He went by himself.

He would never return to the home he built in Parrish with his girlfriend of five years, Terri Stovall, and her two grown children.

Proctor was traveling south on Interstate 75 in his 2011 BMW at 2:36 a.m. Wednesday when his car was clipped by a semitrailer truck driven by Wayne Damari Waldon, 30, of Lakeland. His car veered off the road and plunged into the Alafia River, just before Gibsonton Road. Proctor died at the scene.

Waldon's driving record shows 27 violations and six suspensions over the last 10 years. Despite that, he was able to drive a semi because a bad driving record does not necessarily disqualify someone from receiving a commercial driver's license, state officials said.

Proctor, who was known as Dylan, was born in Birmingham, Ala., the only child of Jimmy and Brenda Proctor.

Stovall's son, Chris Hembrough, 26, saw Proctor less as a father figure and more as a close friend.

They were both drummers and walked together at USF's graduation in December. Proctor earned a bachelor of science degree in applied science with a concentration in gerontology, and a minor in restaurant and hospitality management.

He went back to school this semester and enrolled in a chemistry class. "Dylan and I became very close very quick because he was just a very generous person," Hembrough said.

When he wasn't in scrubs, Proctor let his Bulls pride shine with his USF sweatshirt. A USF flag flew from his car door.

Though Proctor was old enough to be a father to many of his classmates, he was active in student life. He was the coxswain for the campus rowing club and served for one year in student government.

"He was 42 but he had the attitude and the spirit of a 20-year-old," Hembrough said. "He just kind of fit in wherever he was."

Mary Beth Wallace, dean of students at USF Sarasota-Manatee, called Proctor's family Thursday to offer her condolences and propose an idea to hold a memorial for Proctor.

"To have a death in the family is very difficult not only for the family but for the campus community," she said. "My heart really goes out to the family."

Proctor's parents are making private arrangements for the family in Birmingham. Hembrough believes Proctor, an animal lover and avid birdwatcher, would have requested that donations be made to bird sanctuaries in his memory.

"I just want people to know that he was the kindest, sweetest person," he said.