Plant High School teen killed in deadly motorcycle crash

According to witnesses, Ben Francis was riding his motorcycle Friday along Bay to Bay Boulevard when another car hit him.

TAMPA, Fla — Friends and family of Ben Francis said the 17-year-old died in a tragic crash in South Tampa.

Ben Francis attended Plant High School where he was known well by most of his classmates. A close friend, Taylor Sass, explained Francis was loved by everyone he met.

“He was funny,” Sass said. “You would never not have a smile on your face when you were with him.”

Those smiles turned into sorrow Friday when Francis was driving a motorcycle with someone on the back. A local business across the street from the crash site captured the collision on surveillance video. The video shows the two were hit by a car at the intersection of Bay to Bay Boulevard and Louis Avenue in Tampa. The other person on the motorcycle with Francis was sent to a hospital. That person’s family asked for privacy.

As for the person driving the car, their condition is unknown, but firefighters did have to assist with getting them out of their car.

Francis’s mom called this a “tragic accident” and that she is heartbroken. Friends feel that same heartbreak.

“Ben, to me, was like my brother,” Sass said. “He was so impactful in my life. You look at him and you knew, you’re happy.”

Francis’s mother said the family is planning to have a funeral service for him on Dec. 18.

In the meantime, friends have set up a memorial at the corner along Bay to Bay Boulevard and Louis Ave where the crash happened.

“Put something here because I feel like this is the worst intersection here,” Sass Stated. “I feel like a lot of accidents happen here.”

A local dentist who works right across the street from where the crash happened said he has witnessed other collisions in the same intersection.

“I live and work here so I get to witness maybe a half of a dozen a year, accidents that happen,” Michael McNeill said.

10 Tampa Bay reached out to the Tampa Police Department to find out how many crashes have happened in this intersection. The request couldn’t be completed over the weekend.

“With the amount of accidents that happen here, there ought to be some consideration for some crosswalks and a light,” McNeill stated.

10 Tampa Bay also reached out to the city council about safety measures, like a stoplight. In an email, city council member for this district, Bill Carlson wrote, “This question is best for city mobility staff. I am copying Adam Smith so he can coordinate with them.” 10 Tampa Bay is waiting to hear back from staff on an update regarding what it would take to install a stoplight at the intersection of Bay to Bay Boulevard and Louis Ave.

As the call for change continues, classmates want Francis to be remembered for the amazing guy he was.

“You knew when he walked in the room. He was someone you could always love. He was just a loveable person,” Sass said.

Ben’s mother added, he spoke fluent German, loved motorcycles and he will be missed by many.

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