Bride got football in face
Now she and her husband are suing over the 2003 incident at the Pier.
By Leonora LaPeter
Published January 26, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG — The football flew through the air in a perfect spiral on the observation deck of the city’s Pier.
It passed between two pillars and headed directly for a newly wed Claudette Siar, who was putting out a cigarette in an ashtray.
Her new husband ran in his tuxedo to try to deflect it, but the pigskin smashed into her jaw.
She collapsed into his arms, droplets of blood from her mouth flecking her full-length wedding dress and veil.
“It felt as though the world stopped,” recalled Claudette Siar, 50, a self-published romance novelist whose first book is To Love the Rose (Is Washington Stoned?)
Now, nearly four years later, the Siars are looking for someone to pay for the football pass that they say destroyed their wedding day and damaged Claudette Siar’s jaw and neck.
Their target: the city of St. Petersburg and Urban Retail Properties, managers of the Pier.
The couple filed suit Jan. 16.
They had been married earlier that day on April 19, 2003, at the assisted living facility where David Siar’s mother lives.
It was her second wedding but his first, so they opted for tradition — complete with invitations to the residents.
Afterward, the wedding party — mostly attorneys like David Siar and insurance adjusters — gathered at the Columbia Restaurant at the Pier for a dinner party.
But the bride wanted a smoke. So she went up to the observation deck with her husband and others from the wedding party.
After the football hit his wife, David Siar spotted two boys nearby. The younger one, who looked to be about 12 years old, approached and said it was an accident.
David Siar, 49, asked for the boy’s mother, and the boy pointed to a woman who appeared to be in her 30s with dark, curly hair. “It was an accident,” she said defensively, David Siar says in papers filed with the couple’s civil lawsuit.
He asked the woman for identification. But ice and a towel arrived, and he was distracted. When he looked up again, the woman and the two boys were gone. He asked a manager at Cha-Cha Coconuts, a restaurant on the observation deck, to call security to detain the woman.
Claudette Siar thought her teeth were broken. David Siar helped his wife back to the restaurant, and someone fished out some Tylenol. She downed two Grand Marnier liqueurs to soothe the pain in her jaw.
A private security guard in a pith helmet arrived and agreed to call police. But he returned and said police would not come because “it was an accident.”
The couple still don’t know who the woman and the two boys were. Their lawsuit, however, blames the Pier, which is owned by the city and leased by Urban Retail Properties, for failing to keep the public observation deck safe.
The couple sent a letter to the city after the incident, but nothing was resolved. Their suit is seeking $15,000 or more.
An assistant city attorney, Joseph Patner, said the city has called Urban Retail Properties to make sure it has insurance for the incident.
A Pier official, Carol Figurski, said Urban Retail Properties has contacted lawyers for its insurance company, but she could provide no other information.
Claudette Siar never went to the hospital the day she was hit. Instead, she went on her honeymoon to Biloxi, Miss., because it was her husband’s first wedding, and she could see how crushed he was that it was ruined.
Since then, a doctor has told her that she has TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) problems and a neck injury that has led to nerve damage.
“There was no way that kind of thing should have been going on up there,” Claudette Siar said. “It was a dangerous environment they put me in.”