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Crash curtailed teen's plans and new friendships

He had become more outgoing and seemed happy before the fatal Hernando car crash, his mom says.

By SHANNON TAN
Published February 16, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - They worried about each other.

Kevin S. Elliot, 17, made sure his mother, who is diabetic, remembered to get her insulin shots. Emma Barker worried about her only son, who has had two open heart surgeries to repair the hole in his heart. He tried to get her to quit smoking.

When it started getting late Friday night, and Kevin wasn't home, Barker wondered if anything had happened.

She knew he was going bowling with his friends from Gibbs High School. Kevin had only started going out socially lately, and was looking forward to the outing.

"There's a lot of things he didn't get a chance to do," said Barker, 41.

Kevin was one of five people in a vehicle that ran a stop sign in Hernando County and slid off the road, hitting a large pine tree.

Kevin was killed. The driver, Russell W. Keller, 19, of St. Petersburg, and the other passengers were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital. Their conditions were not available Sunday.

Highway Patrol officials are still investigating.

"I know they were all friends," said Barker. "I'm sure it was an accident."

Barker left Kevin's father when he was 2. Since then, it's just been the two of them.

Kevin would come straight home after school. They were together all the time.

He'd spend his time playing computer wrestling games and chatting with his friends on the computer. Kevin would feed the stray cats on his street. He liked writing stories and watching Japanese animation movies.

"He was a little goofy," she said. "He liked to make his friends laugh."

Lately, Kevin started going out with his friends on weekends. He asked a female friend to go to the movies on Valentine's Day and was going to buy her a box of candy.

"He'd been so happy lately," Barker said. "I was glad to see him go out more and start doing more stuff."

Kevin, who made the honor roll this year, told his mother this week that she was a "fun mom" and wanted his friends to meet her.

Now, Barker is thinking about selling her home in the 3500 block of Eighth Avenue N.

"I can't imagine being alone here without him," she said. "Yesterday, I was still looking out the window, expecting to see him walk up the sidewalk."

Less than two weeks ago, they were in Glenwood, Iowa for his grandmother's funeral.

It was the first time Kevin had seen snow.

His mother plans to make the trip to Iowa again. This time she'll be burying her son.

- Shannon Tan can be reached at shtan@sptimes.com or 445-4174.

[Last modified February 16, 2004, 01:31:39]


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