IMAGINE, IF YOU CAN, your husband or wife taking the kids for their usual bike ride together and waiting for them to come home. Everyone knows bicycles can be dangerous, but even those times that you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach because it’s taking a little longer than usual for them to return, it pretty much always turns out OK.
Then, imagine what the family of West Meadows resident Pedro Aguerreberry, 42, is going through today, less than three weeks since Pedro took his sons Lucas, 8, and Bennett, 3, out for a bike ride, never to be seen alive again by his wife Meghan or those young boys.
But, this wasn’t just another tragic accident that, in an instant, changed forever the lives of the Aguerreberry family and everyone who worked with the always-smiling Pedro at Citigroup and their friends and neighbors in New Tampa.
Instead, it was an intentional act by a sadly mentally deranged young man who posted on Instagram the day before he made that quick U-turn in his car on New Tampa Blvd. (the main road that runs through West Meadows) to run down Pedro and his young sons that no one should blame him for what he was about to do. Instead, Morse said, “blame the devil.”
Yes, Morse, the former Freedom High student who was Baker Acted by the Tampa Police Department (TPD) on June 12, just two weeks earlier, only to be released — against the protests of his own mother — on June 19, a week after being held and evaluated, was obviously dealing with a serious mental illness. But, this isn’t about whether or not the man charged with the first-degree, premeditated murder of Pedro should be declared not guilty by reason of insanity or not. It’s about what happens after a happily married, devoted husband and father is intentionally taken from the arms of his loving family by someone he had never met.
Trying To Make Sense Of It
Even though I had never met Pedro or Meghan, I was one of more than 200 people who filled St. James United Methodist Church on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. on June 27 for his funeral. The next day, I also came out to take pictures of the 100 or so who got together to put on a memorial bike ride and run in his honor.
At the memorial service on Friday, I was stunned that the start of the service was delayed by an hour, as I was one of only maybe 30 people who were actually sitting in the seats. The other (approximately) 175 or so people in attendance made a circle around the outside of the seating area and every last one of them hugged Meghan and the boys (Lucas was able to get himself into a seat, but Bennett, who was more severely injured in the crash, was still in a wheelchair) and offered them all prayers and other words of love and encouragement.
I had never seen this done at a funeral before but I definitely felt this amazing energy flowing between every one of those well-wishers and the entire Aguerreberry family.
As if he hadn’t already been through enough that week, poor Bennett simply couldn’t handle the receiving line. After the first 20 minutes or so, he said, “Mommy, please stop letting go of me,” as Meghan tried desperately to continue holding his hand while hugging every one of the attendees with her other arm.
Still 20 minutes later, Bennett pleaded with her again, “Mommy, please stop hugging them.” I can’t imagine that anyone who left St. James did so with his or her heart still intact after hearing this sweet child’s plaintive cries.
After that, it was difficult to focus on the beautiful, sweet words of remembrance from Brett, Oscar and Laura, Pedro’s friends and coworkers at Citigroup who spoke. Everyone who did mentioned Pedro’s smile.
It’s still so hard to believe that someone like that could be taken away from the people who love him by such a senseless, heinous act.
Even so, I personally wanted to thank Loyless Funeral Homes for providing such a beautiful video memorial for Pedro, both online and during the service. All of the pictures of him and his family on these pages were saved from that video.
Honoring Pedro’s Memory…
It certainly isn’t difficult to understand why so many people have felt compelled to try to help the Aguerreberry family. In addition to the memorial bike ride, a GoFundMe page has already raised tens of thousands of dollars to help them and The Fat Rabbit Pub in Tampa Palms and 900º Woodfired Pizza in the Shops at Wiregrass (owner Steve Falabella lives in West Meadows) were among those holding fund-raising events (Fat Rabbit’s was on July 8) to help.
As for the bike ride, cyclists young and old started at the BBD entrance to Flatwoods Park, turned right onto BBD and left onto New Tampa Blvd., pausing to honor Pedro at the makeshift shrine set up by his fellow West Meadows residents near where he was struck and killed by Morse’s car a little west of Wood Sage Dr.
Brett was among the handful of runners who said a little prayer for Pedro before taking off to run the park’s paved loop together.