Advertisement
  1. News

Boarders, bikers and suits drawn to memorial for Wesley Chapel hit-and-run victim

Juan Perez and Rebecca Fiallos, parents of Angel Rodriguez Fiallos, speak during a memorial for their son Aug. 11 in Wesley Chapel. Angel Fiallos was riding his motorcycle when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver, investigators said. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Aug. 19

Click here to read this story in Spanish.

WESLEY CHAPEL — Anthony Ledford knew he'd found a friend when he saw the worn-out skate shoes.

In the office at Forest Hills Elementary School in Tampa, Ledford, then in fourth grade, spotted Angel Gabriel Rodriguez Fiallos in the footwear that marked the skateboarding tribe — people who spend their weekends outside practicing and bonding over board tricks.

Two decades later, Ledford got a call. Fiallos had been struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver Aug. 3 while riding his Harley-Davidson XL1200 motorcycle, a hobby Ledford persuaded him to get into.

Ledford didn't believe it, not until he looked at the medical table and saw the black S8-Hi Vans that Fiallos wore. They were covered in dirt and blood.

Ledford joined more than 150 people who traveled to the gymnasium at North Tampa Christian Academy on Aug. 11 to celebrate the life of the Wesley Chapel man. Each chair, plus extra ones the staff put down, was filled. Late-comers stood in the back. Fiallos lay in a wooden casket topped by a skateboard and motorcycle helmet stuffed with sunflowers. He wore the T-shirt of favorite anime character Deku from My Hero Academia. His recent ex-girlfriend of almost 10 years, Stephanie Blasciak, bought it for him.

RELATED STORY: Carjacking couple in custody after hitting, killing motorcyclist then fleeing the scene in stolen car

"I feel horrible that he lost his life at 26," Ledford said. "If he was taken, it was for a bigger purpose — that God took him for a reason. He was needed somewhere else."

Troopers said Fiallos was struck and killed about 7:30 a.m. when a 2000 Dodge Dakota ran a red light at the intersection of State Road 54 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. They then hit Fiallos, of Wesley Chapel, who was riding his motorcycle.

Cody Bearry, 31, of Wesley Chapel, was driving the Dakota and Breanna Lynn Wright, 23, of Dade City, was his passenger, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

They kept driving and collided with a Nissan Altima, propelling it into a fourth vehicle. They didn't stop then, either, the Highway Patrol said.

The pair ran across the highway to a Wawa gas station, carjacking a green 2002 Saturn and headed east on State Road 54.

They were spotted six hours later and 24 miles away, troopers said. Wright was caught in the 6600 block of Knights Griffin Road in Plant City but Bearry ran and was apprehended about 8 p.m. after a search through woods and a canal using tracking dogs.

They each face a number of charges in the incident. For Bearry, they include leaving the scene of a crash, fleeing police, carjacking, grand theft of a firearm and driving with a suspended license causing death, according to court records. Wright faces charges of carjacking with a firearm and possession of the drug Clonazepam, used to prevent and control seizures, according to court records.

Ledford, 27, said he and others who knew Fiallos plan to attend court hearings.

"I'm trying to get over the fact that there's two people still getting three square meals a day and running water after putting my best friend in a grave at such a young age," Ledford said.

During the viewing Sunday morning, the focus was on Fiallos' life and not how he died.

The crowd included family, friends he met at the skate park and identifiable from their many tattoos, motorcyclists in leather vests who had learned how he died, administrators in suits from Advent Health Wesley Chapel where Fiallos worked as a valet, even hospital patients he had greeted.

About two dozen people stood to tell their favorite stories about Fiallos. They all had the same theme: He never stopped improving his life and raised others up as he did.

He learned last year he had a brain tumor but medication he was taking gave his life a new spark. He started reading self-help books and woke up around 5 a.m. each day to work out. He grew in his spirituality. He loved his job at a valet, but began to consider more ambitious career paths — maybe barber school or firefighter academy.

The hospital loved him so much they wrote his name into the contract with their valet service, said Tyson Davis, chief financial officer.

Said ex-girlfriend Stephanie Blasciak, 28, "When I think about Angel, I think about somebody who would want you to look toward the future, not the past. He would want you to keep pushing on, no matter what."

Rebecca Fiallos said she's not sure what she's going to do without her only son. But seeing the outpouring of love for him confirmed for her that she had raised a good man.

"He impacted so many people's lives," she said. "My son was special. And he doesn't have a chance at life anymore because of these people."

Contact Paige Fry at pfry@tampabay.com. Follow @paigexfry.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Clark used a shotgun to kill his mother and another man. Then he returned to the crime scene with a shotgun, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  2. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  3. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  4. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
  5. Reclaimed water rates are increasing 6 percent in St. Petersburg.
    Potable, waste and reclaimed water fees will all increase. So will garbage fees, though the stormwater fee will drop for some.
  6. Joshua Russell, 26, faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to deputies. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A dose of kratom caused the caretaker to fall asleep for hours inside a hot minivan with the disabled man in the back seat, investigators said.
  7. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  8. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Friday about a child protection investigator who was arrested on charges of falsifying reports. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon
    It’s the second time in two years a Pinellas child protection investigator has faced falsification charges.
  9. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    The Challenger K-8 student didn’t have access to a gun, deputies said.
  10. Life changed for Chad Cagley with the birth of daughter Aaliyah, now 3. Cagley was killed Monday when a drunk driver slammed into the back of his motorcycle on Interstate 75, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. FAMILY PHOTO  |  Courtesy Stephanie Coomes
    The drunk driver who ran into Chad Cagley was caught after a witness followed him, troopers said.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement