Article from Us - to Hernando Today

Teen Remembered As Masaryktown Cowboy

By KYLE MARTIN

Hernando Today

Published: June 3, 2008

Justin White was a talker.

"98 words a minute" as his sister puts it.

It didn't necessarily matter if you were listening or not, just an occasional nod of the head or an "uh huh" would suffice.

His family members were used to White's chatterbox ways, but even they would have to ask him to zip it from time to time.

They would give anything now to hear his voice.

At 8:59 p.m. Saturday night, White, 17, was pedaling north on Cedar Lane, towards Cortez Boulevard. A pickup truck going in the opposite direction was passing another car when it struck White head-on, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

White didn't have any identification in his pockets, so it took authorities two hours before they were positive it was White. Time seemed to drag at the hospital, said White's sister, Valerie Harper.

The family was already fairly certain it was White because the clothes matched his description.

"In the back of our minds, though, we just hoped there was some mistake," Harper said. Also at the hospital was the family of Scott Avery. Avery, also 17, was killed when his bicycle was rear-ended an hour later on Powell Road, FHP reported.

Charges are pending in that wreck against Leo Salvato, 36, of Spring Hill, who reportedly fled the scene. He had not been arrested as of 5 p.m. Monday. No charges are expected against the driver in White's accident, Timothy Price, of Brooksville.

On Monday, White's brother and sister brought him to life through stories that often ended in laughter.

He was a Masaryktown cowboy through and through. He raised a prize pig as a kid through 4-H. He loved training horses and competing with them. Helping out on his Mom's Benes Roush Road property was what he liked best.

"I like working with my hands," was how he explained it.

Most of his time was spent outdoors, not watching TV. Unlike so many of his generation, White barely knew how to text message on a cell phone.

White was legally blind without his eyeglasses. He once fell 20 feet out of a tree house and his first concern was to recover his glasses.

"He was just patting the ground trying to find them. He didn't even care if he was hurt," said brother Richard Furr.

White was the youngest of five siblings; they called him "peanut" up until the day he died.

He had a mischievous streak. Everyone laughed as they remembered the time he set off a firework "fountain" inside the house.

Many of his friends were at Nature Coast Technical High School, where Avery, the other victim, was a junior. White transferred to Hernando High School in February and joined the Air Force JROTC.

His instructor, retired Air Force Col. Jim Crigger, described his student as well-behaved and quiet.

Some of the other cadets "are feeling crushed this morning," Crigger said. "This is really a tragedy."

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Merritt Funeral Home's chapel at 4095 Mariner Blvd.

Burial will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Masaryktown Cemetery.

Services for Scott Avery are pending with Turner Funeral Home.

Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or kmartin@hernandotoday.com.

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