A 15-year-old sophomore at Palmetto High School was killed on his way to school Thursday morning while trying to walk across U.S. 41, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Around 6:28 a.m., a 64-year-old Tampa man on his way to work was driving southbound on U.S. 41 in the right lane in a silver Lexus. The light was green at the intersection of 23rd Street East. FHP Lt. Juan Cuevas said the driver all of a sudden saw a pedestrian, identified as Myquarios Kelly, walking westbound across U.S. 41, in the middle of his lane.
Kelly was walking next to the crosswalk during a red pedestrian light, the FHP report said.
Next to the student’s body, which was covered in a pink sheet in the middle of U.S. 41 as FHP continued its investigation, lay a black backpack. His black shoes were about 150 feet from where he ended up.
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Significant damage could be seen on the front end of the Lexus.
As of just before 10:30 a.m., U.S. 41 was reopened to traffic.
Kelly was a sophomore at Palmetto High School, said school district spokesman Mike Barber.
“I lost my heart, man,” said Michael Kelly, Myquarios’ father. “He was the greatest.”
Michael Kelly asked that people keep his son in their prayers and watch out for their own children.
Grief counselors met with some students at the school Thursday morning, according to Barber.
“They’ve been a tremendous resource for us, for both the students and our staff,” said Palmetto principal Carl Auckerman during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
Former Palmetto principals Jim Pauley and Willie Clarke were on hand as well, along with athletic director Kenny Ansbro.
“(Students and staff members) described him as a well-liked young man who was funny with a great personality,” Auckerman said in a prepared statement.
Barber said the district would not comment at this point on whether Myquarios had access to bus transportation to school, and the focus for the time was to honor his family and his memory. Students can only ride the bus if they live outside of the two-mile radius from the school. Myquarious was struck about 1.5 miles away from his school.
“We want to honor his passing” Barber said. “All of our thoughts and our prayers and condolences are with the family.”
He said all high schools in the district have many students who either drive themselves to school, ride with other students or walk and the incident is a reminder for all students who walk to school to be safety-conscious.
“It’s difficult to get through situations like this but fortunately we have a tight-knit community and we will do that,” Auckerman said.
The crash remains under investigation.
Phone message from Principal Carl Auckerman to Palmetto High parents
“Good morning, this is Palmetto High Principal Carl Auckerman. It is with a deep sense of sadness that I have to inform you that a member of the Palmetto High School Family was tragically killed this morning while walking to school. Myquarios Kelly, a 15-year old sophomore, was crossing U.S. 41 when he was fatally hit by a car. The entire Palmetto High community sends its thoughts and prayers to Myquarios’ family during this very difficult time. We do have grief counselors from the school district here on our campus today available for students and staff. Again, I am sorry to have to inform you of the loss of one of our own, but I wanted you to know the facts as we have learned them. We will rally as a school family to support those who need our love and support in memory of Myquarios Kelly and his family. Thank you.”