LARGO — Kurt and Cheri Holzbacher wanted to make sure they were off the road and back home in Holiday before all those New Year’s Eve revelers took to the roads. So, just to be safe, they got on their motorcycle and left their friend’s barbecue at about 10 p.m. Monday.
They never made it home.
The couple were headed east on Ulmerton Road when Largo police said a truck leaving the Bay Ranch Mobile Home Park pulled out in front of their 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle at about 10:45 p.m.
The motorcycle crashed into the SUV, which police said then fled the scene.
Sarah Scherrer was driving on Ulmerton Road that night and stopped when she saw people laying on the road. Cheri Holzbacher was lying in the middle lane and her husband in the right lane, toward the curb. She said she helped keep the couple focused and awake for the five or so minutes it took for paramedics to arrive.
“They were both very concerned about each other,” Scherrer said. “They were both very conscious and very coherent.”
It was about midnight when Jennifer Rehm got the phone call. Her brother and sister-in-law had been transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.
Kurt Holzbacher, 41, suffered a collapsed lung, broken scapula and pelvis and had broken fragments from his liver, spleen and kidney, Rehm said. Doctors are keeping him sedated but he has been unresponsive.
Cheri Holzbacher, 42, is being treated in the intensive care unit after suffering a broken pelvis that took almost eight hours of surgery to repair, Rehm said. She also has rib and neck fractures.
The wife was wearing a helmet but the husband was not at the time of the crash, Rehm said.
The next 36 hours are critical for the newlyweds — especially Kurt Holzbacher whose condition has yet to stabilize since the crash.
The two were married at the beginning of December. They reconnected a few years ago after being friends in middle school in Phoenix, Ariz.
“They can light up any room they walk into and I just can’t imagine life without them. I just want him to open his eyes and talk to me back, Rehm said. “Whoever did this I just pray they come forward and that there is closure and justice.”
The driver who struck the couple is still at large. Largo police believe the SUV could be a green or dark-colored 1999 or 2000 Ford Expedition that suffered serious damage to the passenger side. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Largo police at (727)-587-6730.
Contact McKenna Oxenden at [email protected] Follow @mack_oxenden.