21 year old Andrew Stear of O’Fallon, Mo was killed on March 26, 2007 in Panama City, FL when illegal alien Hugo Rodriguez Colindrez, driving a stolen van, struck Stear, who died enroute to a local hospital.
Stear was on spring break and had been walking across Front Beach Road after leaving Sharky's Beach Club when the accident happened about 10 p.m. Monday, according to Maj. Dave Humphreys, spokesman for the Panama City Beach Police Department.
Stear was struck by a 1990 Dodge van driven by Hugo Rodriguez Colindrez, 28, police said. Colindrez kept driving after the crash and stopped only after a motorist who witnessed the accident forced him to the side of the road, Humphreys said.
Colindrez has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident with death and grand theft auto, police said. He was being held Thursday in lieu of $75,000 bail in the Bay County jail in Florida.
Police think alcohol played a factor in the crash said that and more charges could be filed pending the results of blood tests on Colindrez. In addition, he is suspected of being an illegal immigrant, Humphreys said, and federal agents have placed a detaining order on him while they investigate.
Colindrez is in custody for multiple charges including leaving the scene of an accident
Besides his parents, Stear's survivors include a sister, Ashleigh, and brother, Alexander, and grandparents Roger and Joan Stear and Ray and Elaine McInerney.
His mother, Laurie, said that Andrew had driven to Florida in a caravan with about 20 friends. She said she had learned of the crash from one of his friends, who called her in hysterics shortly after he died at a hospital.
"He loved life, that's for sure," said his father, Shane. "He enjoyed socializing with friends and going out and having fun."
Stear worked two part-time jobs in addition to attending classes at St. Charles County Community College, where he was pursuing a degree in business administration.
Co-workers remembered him as energetic, fun-loving and a good friend.
"He's the type of person who would do anything for anyone without being asked," said Dave Hinman, who manages an O'Fallon QuikTrip and owns a sporting goods store where Stear worked.
Hinman said Stear's caring personality extended outside the workplace too. He volunteered at No Hunger Holiday, an annual program to provide food to needy residents at Thanksgiving.
Stear was a big sports fan, Hinman said, who especially enjoyed Cardinals baseball and Nebraska college football.
"I would always have to work his work schedule around Husker football," he said. "Sports were a huge part of his life."
Co-worker Jared Queen said Stear had a good sense of humor, which made it fun to work with him.
"He was always making people smile — I think that was one of his best qualities," he said.
Nadine Freedline, a former teacher of Stear's at Francis Howell High School, said that he was a good student who was kind and considerate to everyone.
Stear played varsity basketball at the school, and he took Freedline's business classes for three years. After he graduated, she kept in touch with him and wrote a letter of recommendation for him, she said.
"We lost a good kid," she said. "He was the kind of student who made your day. He was just so likable."