St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Boy dies riding scooter in traffic

Two teens borrow the go-ped without permission of the owner. A car hits them, killing one and injuring the other.

By LINDA GIBSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 23, 2000


TAMPA -- Two teenage boys on a borrowed motorized scooter darted out of heavy midafternoon traffic Friday and into the path of an oncoming car.

Ivan Ramon Arocha, 13, died at the scene. Eric Acevedo, 15, was in St. Joseph's Hospital. His condition had improved from critical to fair Friday evening.

They were not supposed to be on the scooter, commonly known as a go-ped.

The boy who owned it, fearful of the heavy traffic, had refused to let his friends borrow it, neighbors said.

They took it anyway.

The northbound lanes of Armenia Avenue were at a bumper-to-bumper standstill when the crash happened about 3 p.m. Friday, said police spokesman Joe Durkin. The boys were seen weaving in and out of the cars that were stopped in the northbound lane.

Todd Osgood, 32, of Tampa, was heading south on Armenia in a Dodge Durango, a few blocks south of Hillsborough Avenue.

The two boys, with Ivan steering, left the parking lot of Spanish radio station WQBN-AM and started across Armenia Avenue, Durkin said.

They appeared in the southbound lane near the intersection of Crest Avenue -- right in front of Osgood's Durango. They were not wearing safety helmets.

Speed was not a factor, Durkin said. No charges are expected against Osgood, who declined to comment when reached later at his Hyde Park home. Martha Gamez and Oscar Rodriguez, Eric's neighbors in the Dauphine Apartments about two blocks from the accident, said Eric and Ivan had taken the go-ped scooter even though a friend had refused to let them use it. They planned to ride less than a mile along Armenia and Hillsborough to the mobile home where Ivan lived at 5500 N Rome Ave.

The boy who owned the scooter thought that was too dangerous, said Gamez and Rodriguez. The boy and his mother declined to speak to reporters.

Gamez, whose 10-year-old son, Bienvenido, often played with Ivan and Eric, said Ivan lived alone with his father, Ramone. Ivan had no brothers or sisters, and his mother is dead.

"His dad was all he had," she said.

"He was a good kid," said Judy Siegel, who manages the Sandpiper Mobile Home Park where Ivan and his father lived. "He wasn't a troublemaker. We never had any complaints about him. He played with his friends, and he was very good about going to school."

The Arochas had lived in the park for at least two years. Siegel had seen the boy earlier Friday afternoon.

"He was asking for oil to fix his little scooter," she said. "But my husband wasn't here, and I couldn't help him."

Eric Acevedo lived with his mother, brother and sister at the large apartment complex, where many of the neighbors in the tight-knit, Hispanic neighborhood knew them. The family gathered at St. Joseph's Hospital and declined to comment.

Go-peds can reach speeds of up to 35 mph, but it is illegal in Florida to drive them on public roads or sidewalks.

The scooters, which look like a skateboard with a T-shaped handlebar, have a small motor but no seats or lights. Riders stand on them and steer.

Friends of the boys gathered behind police tape to gaze at the sheets covering Ivan's body, which lay on Armenia Avenue next to the Durango and the fallen scooter.

They left after Ivan's body was taken away about three hours after the accident.

- Times staff writer Mike Brassfield contributed to this report. Linda Gibson can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or gibson@sptimes.com.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.