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Injured as a boy, seven years later Victor Smiley dies as a man

By CRAIG BASSE

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 7, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Victor L. Smiley, essentially asleep for more than seven years after a bicycle accident, has died at 21.

Mr. Smiley, who spent much of his life in a customized wheelchair, dependent on others for life's necessities, died Saturday (Feb. 3, 2001) at Bayfront Medical Center.

A resident of South Heritage Health & Rehabilitation Center for the past four months after living at Sabal Palms Health Care Center in Largo, he was hospitalized Saturday with pneumonia and an infection, his mother said.

Although not comatose, the St. Petersburg native could do nothing by himself. He breathed through a hole in his neck, ate only liquids through a tube in his stomach.

It had been like that since June 24, 1993. Then 13, the 16th Street Middle School student was riding his gray BMX bike along the sidewalk in the 2000 block of Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street S when he glided off the curb and into a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus.

Thrown to the pavement and seriously injured, he was taken to Bayfront Medical Center and later transferred to All Children's Hospital.

Times photographer Jamie Francis told Mr. Smiley's story in words and pictures in September as part of his Florida Found series.

Survivors include his mother, Victoria Lee Cuthbertson, his father, Willie E. Sr., three brothers, Willie Jr., Cauiau and Marco J., all of St. Petersburg; a sister, Latawsha Smiley, Ocala; his maternal grandfather, Andrew Robinson, and his paternal grandparents, Johnny Lee and Rose B. Bable, all of St. Petersburg.

Friends may call from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday at Smith Funeral Home, 1534 18th Ave. S. A funeral will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Jude United Holiness Church, 2012 Auburn St. S, which he attended. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery.

- Information from Times files was used in this obituary.

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