Motorcycle driver charged in fatal crash
By MONIQUE FIELDS
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2000
LARGO -- Just three weeks before Lauren Girard was killed in a motorcycle accident, her father took her and her boyfriend, James McGlynn, aside and lectured them about riding at safe speeds.
Chris Girard knew his daughter trusted and cared for her boyfriend of 18 months. In fact, he likened their relationship to that of "Jack and Diane," the young lovers featured in a John Cougar Mellencamp song popular in the 1980s.
On that day, McGlynn tried to ease Girard's fears and swore to him that he wouldn't put his 18-year-old daughter in harm's way.
Prosecutors say he didn't keep his promise.
"Three weeks later, I got a phone call that changed my life, and I ain't been right since," said Chris Girard.
Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies arrested McGlynn Wednesday and charged him with vehicular homicide and possession of a fake ID. They say McGlynn was driving a motorcycle and Lauren Girard, of 3404 Dahlia Place, Unit A, was a passenger when the accident occurred.
McGlynn's bail for the vehicular homicide charge was originally set at $100,000 in addition to the $10,000 bail on the forged license charge, but Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Lauren Laughlin lowered the first bail to $25,000 and the second to $5,000, despite objections from the state attorney's office and Girard's family.
"For him to sit in your Hilton and think for a little while certainly won't hurt him," Chris Girard told the judge at McGlynn's first court appearance.
On Oct. 14, Sheriff deputies saw McGlynn, 19, of 3402 Floral Drive in Largo, and two other motorcycles driving at speeds in excess of 85 mph in a 45 mph zone southbound on Philippe Parkway just south of State Road 580, said Deputy James Bordner, a member of the major accident investigation team. Sheriff deputies pursued the trio, and one motorcycle pulled over immediately.
The other two proceeded down Philippe Parkway so fast that witnesses said they saw only two flashes of light. They crossed Enterprise Road, and deputies traveling northbound on Philippe made a U-turn and pursued them, but they later turned off their overhead lights as McGlynn and the other motorcyclist disappeared, Bordner said.
Deputies later found a horrific site.
McGlynn had crashed his 2000 Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle at Washington Drive and Philippe Parkway after he lost control at the curve. The bike went down hard on the right side of the road. Lauren Girard's head struck the pavement, and the motorcycle hit a guard rail and rebounded, he said.
She was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital with extensive head injuries and pronounced dead. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where he was treated and released. Both were wearing motorcycle helmets.
The other motorcyclist navigated the turn and was not injured, Bordner said.
Chris Girard wants to make sure no one else loses a daughter as he did. He is telling anyone who will listen about his daughter's story because he believes young drivers of high-speed motorcycles should not be able to legally have a passenger.
He has participated in motorcycle runs, honoring his daughter and others killed in motorcycle crashes. He also had patches made in her honor and will place them on memorial walls at taverns motorcyclists frequent.
Lauren Girard was a daddy's girl. When she was born, she had bronchitis. Her father used to sit in a rocking chair, lay her on his chest and lull her to sleep. As she grew older, she accompanied him on his motorcycle.
"She loved riding with me," he said. "She loved having the wind in her face."
At the time of the accident, Lauren Girard was preparing to attend St. Petersburg Junior College and pursue a business management degree. She wanted to become an office manager.
Until then, she was working with records at the Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater.
Her father knows he can't bring her back, but he said others can learn from his experience.
"The lesson here: You don't play with the devil when you have a passenger on back and you're responsible for another life."
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks