Friends remember teen skater killed in Bradenton crash

acastillo@bradenton.comMay 7, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Andrew Rothfuss sat by a pillar at the skate park on Tuesday. Under his feet, the words "R.I.P. Brett Hoover" were scratched into his brand new skateboard.

His friend, William B. Hoover -- best known as Brett -- had died a day earlier after being struck by a car while skateboarding on Manatee Avenue West on Sunday. According to a Florida traffic crash report, the driver said he had not seen Brett until it was too late. The intersection was dark and unlighted according to the police report. A friend who was travelling home with Brett said the 17-year-old rode his skateboard on to Manatee Avenue.

Officers responded to the intersection of Manatee Avenue West and Palma Sola Boulevard just after 9:30 Sunday night and determined the skater was traveling south through the intersection when he was struck by a 2004 Corvette traveling east on Manatee Avenue West, according to a news release. The driver of the Corvette immediately pulled over and called 911.

Brett died at 2:26 p.m. Monday at Blake Medical Center, police said.

As he sat in the shade at Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark Andrew, 16, talked about his friend.

"If you were in a bad mood or something, he'd always make you laugh," he said. "Kid could make anybody smile. I don't care how or in what mood you were in."

When he first began skating almost two years ago, Andrew said he looked up to Brett.

"He was pretty much semi-pro," the teen said, adding that he and Brett spent many nights at the skatepark together. Rothfuss had a photo of his friend on his phone. In it, Brett had his eyes closed, his arms crossed, his head rested against a pillar. He wore a Vans Sk8 Hi T-shirt.

"We'd be passed out, sitting right here at the pillars," Andrew said with a smile. "A couple of our friends would come up skating in their early morning session and wake us up and say 'Hey man, go home. You guys done spent 36 hours here,'" he said. "Didn't want to go home. Just wanted to skate... all we looked forward to."

Drew Ferrara, 16, was in a science class with Brett at Manatee High School. The sophomore described Brett as "really open-minded."

Brett even advised him about girls.

"He said 'Just be patient and it will all work out in the end,'" Drew said.

Hadley Thompson, 16, was supposed to meet Brett after school on Monday. The Manatee High sophomore dated Brett briefly and they remained friends.

"He was very sweet," she said by phone Tuesday evening.

Thompson visited Brett at Blake Medical Center Tuesday with a group of friends.

"I was happy I got to see him in person before he was sent away," she said.

Thompson's father, Darrell took her back to the hospital room where Brett was so she could process everything. "We talked to his dad about different things," he said.

Thompson bought a teddy bear for his daughter at the hospital's gift shop.

"She asked me 'Is this for Brett?' I said, 'No, this is Brett. This is for you. You can't be in pain anymore,'" he said, his voice breaking.

Andrew said there would be more skateboards etched with Brett Hoover's name. Andrew, who is part of a larger tight-knit group who practice their skills at the skatepark, said someone is also making stickers in honor of Brett.

"Brett was one of us and he always will be," he said. "He skated -- he died on a skateboard... he did what he loved."

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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