ELLENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – There’s a growing memorial of flowers and balloons along U.S. 301 in Ellenton after a local teen was hit and killed Sunday night. Troopers arrested and charged the driver, 53-year-old David Shanks with DUI manslaughter.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol crash report, the crash victim Mikeal Steele was on his motorcycle traveling east on U.S. 301 and had the right of way when Shanks pulled out in front of him attempting to turn on 42nd Avenue East.
Officials with the Manatee County School District confirmed to 8 On Your Side Steele was a student at Parrish Community High School. District officials say there were grief counselors on campus Monday.
Dozens of Steele’s classmates and friends went to the crash site Monday, spending time near the makeshift memorial. He was a beloved and talented student-athlete. He was number ‘7’ on the football and soccer field.
“Michael was always a leader and he was a role model. He was always bringing out the best of us. He was not letting us slack off and he was just a great guy and I’m happy to have had him in my life,” said soccer teammate Zane Ramjohn.
Ramjohn and his mother started the makeshift memorial Monday morning.
“Our hearts go out to his mom, the Parrish Community High School community, the soccer team,” said Kathy Ramjohn. “We are just going to have to come together and try to make the best out of it awful situation. 17-years-old, you know, you are beginning your life,” she said with tears in her eyes. A student athlete, a fantastic athlete, a great friend… it is just really, it is heartbreaking it is tragic and to see my child have to grieve a friend is, we are beside ourselves it is awful,” she continued.
Joe Daitch works as a manager at Shake Station. He heard the crash happen Sunday night and tried to help. “It was instantaneous and traumatic,” he said.
Daitch tells 8 On Your Side a drunk driver killed his father years ago. He gave his support to students showing up to the memorial Monday.
“Just don’t drink and drive. There are Ubers now, there is a phone call, a text, call a friend, do whatever you need to do, walk, stay where you are, wait,” said Daitch. “Just don’t do it because the person who is drinking and driving is usually the one who walks away and creates the problem,” he continued.
Owner of Shake Station Andy Ameres decided to put benches out near the memorial Monday. In a show of support, he added a plant and balloons to the growing memorial.
“We are very tightknit. When this happens, it is devastating not just of the family, but to the entire community because we all feel like we are family,” said Ameres. “It is heartbreaking. It was unnecessary. I want to give my condolences and my respects to his family, to all those that knew him and loved him, a young soul gone way too soon,” he continued.
The Parrish community has created a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs.
Shanks is being held in the Manatee County Jail without bond. Court records show troopers cited him for careless driving in August 2020.
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