Motorcyclist dies in crash with a car

When the Port Richey man bought the bike in February, his family feared a day like Saturday.

Published May 29, 2007

HUDSON - His family and friends tried to talk him out of it. They thought it was too dangerous. But Andrew Phillip Nappi bought the Yamaha motorcycle Feb. 20 anyway.

It took only a few months for their worst fears to materialize: Nappi, 23, was killed in an accident Saturday evening after colliding with a car on State Road 52. He was wearing a helmet, but the impact threw him from the motorcycle.

"If I could change anything, I'd smash that motorcycle into a million pieces, " said his father, Andrew E. Nappi. "The helmet protected his face and head, but it didn't protect the rest of his body. Between steel and flesh and bones, there's no question who will win."

The younger Nappi was traveling west in the center lane of State Road 52, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. His family said he was on his way to visit a friend who works at Ice Cold Air on U.S. 19.

Shortly after 7 p.m., 79-year-old Patricia O. Machtinger began crossing SR 52 from Laredo Drive in her Lincoln, pulling into Nappi's path, the Highway Patrol said. The two collided. Nappi, of 8023 Mockernut Lane in Port Richey, was thrown to the roadway and pronounced dead at the scene.

Machtinger sustained minor injuries, but was not taken to the hospital. Reached Monday, she declined to comment for this story. No charges have been filed and the accident is still under investigation, the patrol said.

Arlene Nappi said family and friends tried to talk her son out of buying the motorcycle "for exactly this reason."

She had spent the day before the accident putting baby pictures in plastic bags in case of a hurricane, but when she arrived at the accident scene, she absorbed a different life-changing image. She said she watched her son's body for three hours as it rested under a sheet in the highway median.

"Part of you is gone and you're not going to get it back, " she said.

But his family and friends were left with fond memories. His parents described him as loving, hard working and always willing to help. He graduated from Ridgewood High School in New Port Richey in 2002, where he played on the school's undefeated roller hockey team.

He was manager of two Wendy's locations for about five years and just finished the management training programming at Panera Bread on Little Road. His father said he dreamed of owning a restaurant. He recently finished a degree in business marketing through University of Phoenix Online.

His family said he used to race cars at the speedway off Ulmerton Road and loved his Siberian husky, Rocky. He was also a huge Florida Gator fan.

"He loved life, " his father said. "My son lived every minute of his life."

Friends can attend the visitation, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Faupel Funeral Home, 7524 Ridge Road in Port Richey. A memorial service will follow.

"If I could get every kid to trade (their motorcycles) in for a car so their parents wouldn't have to feel this, I would, " his father said.

Carrie Ritchie can be reached at critchie@sptimes.com.