Saturday afternoon, I was on US-19, complaining about a huge traffic jam. In the distance, I could see cop cars and ambulances making their way though the steel sea. A helicopter was circling around the scene, as if looking for something.
As I got closer, I could see the scene. It was gruesome. I could see mangled cars and a dozen cop cars had closed off a block between Bellair and Nursery roads. Ambulances. Two photographers on a fire truck's cherry picker, taking pictures of the scene. An EMT walking slowly back to his vehicle with an empty stretcher. People standing in the parking lot of a strip mall, draped in disbelief. Glass on the asphalt. Chaos.
A gray Scion xB was covered with two blankets, one white and one yellow. Never a good sign. Nausea swelled inside as I crept past the wreckage. I had a bad feeling. Almost as if I knew who was under the blanket. Unfortunately, it turns out I did.
Local music biz impresario Jancarlos Alberto JC Schaffer, 22, and Rich Kelly were the victims. JC ran JC Schaffer Productions, booked shows at Market on 7th in Ybor and ran Rossco Studios. He was into everything. When I met him, he was managing Hey Rube. We never really clicked, but I always had respect for what he was trying to accomplish. Of course, its not until you cant that you find out you want to get to know someone.
What's even more messed up is that JC had been in an accident the night before. My deepest condolences and prayers go out to JC's family and friends. We have lost a savvy businessman and ambitious cog in the local music machine. Rest In Paradise, JC. Long live JC the Master!
Police say the driver of a 2006 Chevy Avalanche who caused the accident ran off on foot. The helicopter was searching for the driver. As of yesterday, the fuzz is still searching for the driver; the passenger, Daniel Barga of St. Pete, sustained life-threatening injuries and is in the hospital. If you have any information about the driver, please contact Clearwater Police.