Driver had history of speeding, according to records.
What we know
• Three 21-year-old men died and a fourth man -- who turned 21 today -- was injured in a single-car crash at about 3 a.m. on University Parkway.
• Officers believe speed was a factor in the crash.
• The driver had a history of speeding.
• The victims shared a love of music, according to social media. Two worked at Guitar Center Sarasota.
• Sarasota police have investigated 10 crashes this year on that 0.2-mile stretch of University Parkway.
SARASOTA — In what police described as one of the most horrific accident scenes they have encountered, three young musicians died and another was injured in a single-vehicle crash early Monday morning on University Parkway near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
Sarasota Police reported that a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis was traveling west on University at a high speed when it left the road, crashing into several trees near Old Bradenton and DeSoto roads at about 2:32 a.m. Killed were Wesley C. McCurley, 21, of Sarasota, Michael P. Duffy, 21, of Sarasota, and Dane W. Custer, 21, of Bradenton, according to police.
Thomas Bentley, who was ejected during the crash, is at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. He is expected to survive, according to Sarasota Police Department spokeswoman Genevieve Judge. Monday was Bentley's 21st birthday.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
At 12:17 p.m. this message was posted on Bentley's Facebook page:
“Thank you everyone for your concerns. I'm stable and it's unfortunate what happened. My thoughts and prayers go out to my best friends' families. They should be remembered as the good people that they were. Great musicians, great people and amazing friends. I'm so thankful to be here today. But they'll never be forgotten”
McCurley, who Judge said was driving, had a history of speeding in Sarasota and had been cited for speeding nine days ago, on March 12.
Sarasota Police pulled over his silver four-door Grand Marquis with McCurley at the wheel at 1:57 a.m. March 12, according to Sarasota County Clerk of Court records. The traffic citations were for driving 44 mph in a 35 mph zone and failing to change his address on his driver's license.
In 2015, McCurley was ticketed for underage possession of a can of Budweiser in the 900 block of Beach Road, according to court records. He was cited in 2014 for not wearing a seatbelt and failing to provide proof of insurance. Citations in 2013 including running a stop sign, driving 54 in a 35 mph zone, and driving 101 mph in a 40 mph zone. His first speeding ticket in Sarasota County was in August 2012.
From accounts posted on their Facebook pages, it appears the three young men shared a love of music.
Custer apparently studied music production and communications at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois, where he was a member of the Lambda Chi chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi. He moved to Bradenton in February 2015 and worked at Guitar Center Sarasota, a coworker said.
News of Custer's death traveled north Monday. Organizers of Rollin' On The River, a nonprofit in Keokuk, Iowa that organizes a blues festival, paid tribute with a Facebook post:
“Our hearts are broken today as we learned of the death of Dane Custer in an auto accident yesterday in Florida yesterday. Dane was one of the most wonderful, talented, happy, friendly, unselfish people we have ever met. He was the 1st ROR Scholarship recipient and continued to host the Young People's workshops until he moved. Our hearts & prayers go out to Dane's wonderful family. R.I.P Dane, you left us way too soon. You will be missed by so many! We are all fortunate to have called you 'friend.'”
Duffy's page lists him as a manager at Pei Wei restaurant. His father, Michael Terrance Duffy, 60, who lived in southern Manatee County, 60, died Jan. 9.
McCurley, a percussionist, graduated in 2013 from Sarasota High School and attended State College of Florida and formerly worked at Stonewood Grill & Tavern and The Krusty Krab.
Bentley plays guitar in the band NeXXLeveL, which appears at the Gator Club and Mattison's in downtown Sarasota in addition to venues in Manatee and Charlotte counties. He works in sales at Guitar Center. He is a 2013 graduate of Sarasota High School.
Ethan Weaver, an employee at Guitar Center of Sarasota, worked with Bentley and Custer, and said they were both “incredible musicians with a really awesome ear for music.”
"Each of them were really, really good people," Weaver said. "Dane was always super excited. He considered all of us his family. It is really hard for each one of us.”
Weaver said Custer was scheduled to work with him Monday on the guitar floor. He said Custer was relatively new to the area and the first time he met him he was playing “My Favorite Things,” from the musical "Sound of Music," on an instrument in the store.
“Dane was very involved in a lot of brass instruments, like tuba,” Weaver said. “He was very diverse.
“When I first met him he felt like a cool guy to work with. He had a cool personality. He was playing a song from 'The Sound of Music.' He was playing it in the acoustic room and he said, 'I'd love to work here.' He was cool; he was just really funny.”
Weaver said Bentley and Custer played in bands, and their absence was felt at Guitar Center.
“It's weird. He was supposed to be here working all day with me,” Weaver said. “We are all feeling strange. It's a really huge hole on the guitar floor today.”
Troy Nicholas, a member of NeXXLevel, went to the hospital to support the Bentley family after he heard about the crash. He said he first met Bentley at church.
“I'm just glad he's OK,” Nichols said of Bentley. “I'm sorry for Dane and Wesley. I knew all of them — it's tragic. My prayers go out to their families, all of them.”
Nicholas said he had last seen the Bentley family on Saturday night when NeXXLevel played a show at TT's Tiki Bar on Charlotte Harbor in Punta Gorda.
“I'm at the hospital now," he said. "I'm here to support his mom and dad and the rest of his family.
“We are all kind of shaken up right now.”
So far this year, Sarasota Police have investigated four traffic-related fatalities within the city limits — compared with 14 in 2015, five in 2014 and 10 in 2013.
On the same 0.2 mile stretch of University Parkway between DeSoto Road and Old Bradenton Road, the agency has investigated 10 crashes this year, including Monday's fatal accident, compared with 18 in 2015, 25 in 2014 and nine in 2013.
The agency has not compared all of the possible causes of those accidents in the vicinity of the airport and Sarasota Kennel Club as of yet. "It does appear in the majority of the cases the road conditions were dry and weather conditions clear," SPD spokeswoman Genevieve Judge said.
The crash is the second early morning, single-car crash in this region within the past few months in which young people were killed.
At about 5:05 a.m. Oct. 15, Brendan T. Shreve, 17, and Jared S. Duran, 15, died when Shreve lost control of a 2012 Mercedes C350 on a curve of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. The car jumped the curb and struck a tree in the median.
The speedometer on the Mercedes was stuck at 80 mph when Florida Highway Patrol troopers examined the wreckage. In a report released last month, the FHP stated that Shreve had a blood-alcohol content of 0.095 percent and Duran's was 0.097. Florida does not allow people under 21 to drive if their BAC is 0.02 percent or higher.
The crash is the second triple fatality on a Sarasota County road this month.
On March 10, three Venice residents died on River Road, considered one of the most dangerous roads in the region.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 42-year-old Joseph Clark drove a 1989 Chevrolet van south on River Road and attempted to pass a 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe in a no-passing zone on a curve north of the Winchester Boulevard intersection.
Clark's van collided head-on with a 2013 Chrysler Town & Country driven by Donald F. Case, 84, of Venice. Clark, Case and Case's passenger, 91-year-old Ada Cerrito of Venice, died at area hospitals. Two other passengers in Case's car were seriously injured.
The tragedy comes five years after an early morning, single-car crash in Sarasota County that killed four teenagers.
On March 13, 2011, at about 5:30 a.m., Sean Leonard, 19, lost control of a 2007 Chevy Trailblazer at a high rate of speed on Wilkinson Road near Cattlemen Road. The SUV slammed into a subdivision's cinderblock wall. Passengers Andrew Monroe, 19, Leonard's 14-year-old sister Jessica and her 15-year-old friend Kelly Janis also died at the scene.
[View the story "Live: Fatal crash on University Parkway" on Storify]
Source : http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20160321/high-speed-university-parkway-crash-kills-3-young-men-police-say