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Cycle stunt ends in tragedy

A Palm Harbor motorcyclist tried to stand and lost control of his bike, officials say.

By KAMEEL STANLEY
Published July 26, 2007


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Elihud Soto Garnica, 29, who grew up in Mexico. He died in a crash on Tampa Road late Tuesday.

PALM HARBOR - Ruben Soto Garnica struggled Wednesday to accept the loss of his best friend, his older brother, Elihud.

The two grew up in Mexico, shared a house in Palm Harbor and worked in the same restaurants as cooks.

"One little thing can take your life away. One little thing can change your life forever," Ruben, 27, said Wednesday, holding back tears. "All my family, they don't know how to take this."

Elihud Soto Garnica, 29, of Palm Harbor, died Tuesday night after a motorcycle stunt went horribly wrong.

Police say Garnica was in the right-hand lane heading west near the 3100 block of Tampa Road in Oldsmar when the 11:36 p.m. accident happened.

"He attempted to stand up," said Cecilia Barreda, of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "He lost control, and fell off into the center lane."

After he fell, a car managed to stop and put on its emergency lights. A second car, traveling behind the first, noticed the lights and switched lanes, running over Garnica, police said.

An ambulance rushed him to Mease Countryside Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:58 p.m. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.

Garnica was wearing a helmet. It is unclear why he attempted the stunt.

His brother fielded calls most of Wednesday afternoon as family and friends heard the news.

"The whole thing is just so sad," said Stephany Roberts, a family friend. "He was a sweet person. They were really close."

Garnica, who had come to live with his brother less than two years ago, was funny and loved fishing, Roberts said.

The brothers would often take rides together - Elihud on his lime and cherry bike, Ruben on his apple-red scooter.

Ruben said he doesn't think he'll ride again.

He said he hopes his brother's death will remind people to be careful on the road.

"Drive safe because you never know," he said. "He always came back. But this time he didn't."

Garnica is survived by a large family. Except for Ruben, his parents and siblings all live in other states or Mexico.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or 445-4158.

[Last modified July 25, 2007, 21:11:15]


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