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Midnight ride ends tragically for friends

Back together to begin classes at USF, childhood pals crash their motorcycles and die seconds apart.

By ALEX LEARY
Published August 20, 2003

NEW PORT RICHEY - As kids, Chet Capaldi and Tyler Yoder played baseball together in Ohio. As teens, they shared an interest in motorcycles. Both were also drawn to Florida, where they enrolled at the University of South Florida.

Capaldi, 19, who lived in New Port Richey, was to begin his second year next week. Yoder, 18, looked forward to his first semester of engineering classes.

"He knew what he wanted to do and was very determined," said his father, Tim Yoder, of Middlefield, Ohio.

But shortly before midnight Saturday, the friends set out on a motorcycle cruise that would prove fatal. They were killed seconds apart in separate crashes on Massachusetts Avenue in New Port Richey.

After problems sorting out the events, and identifying the men and notifying their families, the Florida Highway Patrol released more details Tuesday.

Cruising at high speed along Massachusetts Avenue, Capaldi lost control of his 2000 Suzuki and struck a curb, the Florida Highway Patrol said. He was thrown from the bike and died from the injuries.

Tyler Yoder, presumably ahead of his friend, continued down the road on his 1992 Suzuki. About 30 seconds later, he was struck by a GMC Jimmy driven by Gary W. Myszkowiak of New Port Richey. Myszkowiak, 48, has not been charged, and the FHP investigation continued Tuesday.

Meanwhile, family members struggled with the loss.

"We've got a lot of support here, but we're not doing very well," Tim Yoder said in a telephone interview.

It was the second son he had lost. In June 1996, Joshua Yoder, 17, was killed when a semitrailer truck collided with his Chevy Cavalier.

Tyler Yoder moved to Tampa on Aug. 1 and was scheduled to start classes Monday. He told his father Saturday afternoon that he was heading to New Port Richey to hang out with Chet Capaldi and his brother, Chuck.

Chuck Capaldi said the friends got on their bikes and were going nowhere in particular. "They were just going." He declined to talk about his brother.

Tyler Yoder, who stored his motorcycle at Chet Capaldi's house, planned to sell the Suzuki, figuring he would not need it at school.

Said his father: "I wish he left the bike at home that night."

- Alex Leary can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is leary@sptimes.com

[Last modified August 20, 2003, 02:07:29]


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