ST. PETERSBURG (WWSB) - The body of a motorcyclist has been found along I-275 in Pinellas County and reports say it is a missing man from Lakewood Ranch.
Highway workers found a man’s body Thursday morning around 11am while picking up trash along the highway near 54th Avenue South in St. Petersburg. Florida Highway Patrol says the body was found near pieces of a motorcycle that appeared to have been involved in a traffic accident and that it appears the crash happened several days ago.
ABC7 spoke to Jimmy Butler’s father who confirmed the body found is his son. Butler had been missing Saturday, November 17 when he attended a motorcycle event on St. Pete Beach.
Butler’s girlfriend, Katie Ayers, told ABC7 that after having a few drinks at a nearby club, they drove home separately with Butler on his white Honda motorcycle. He had not been seen since.
Florida Highway Patrol says Butler’s motorcycle left the I-275 in the early morning hours of November 18 for unknown reasons, overturning and hitting several trees. Butler was ejected and died at the scene.
His body was found around 50 feet from the roadway within the brush and tree line.
Butler was a member of 941 Riderz, a motorcycle club. Matthew Morrison, one of the co-founders, said, “Every emotion you can possibly think of, I’m angry, mad, sad, happy that the family has closure. The amount of emotions that run through me and everybody else here is countless.”
“My heart was broken, it hit me hard, I didn’t want it to be him,” added Kyler McDowell, a friend of Jimmy Butler.
A massive search for Butler had been going on for nearly two weeks. Willy Yum’s on 14th Street in Bradenton is a place he would spend lots of time along with so many other motorcyclists from 941 Riderz. In fact, there are pictures hanging at the restaurant remembering the lives lost of motorcyclists in the group. The restaurant owner and a lot of the motorcycle community sat around today reminiscing about Butler.
“He was a wonderful guy, and he was an amazing guy, good friend of everybody," said Robert Williams, Owner of Willy Yum’s. "He was very fun and he had a great smile, had a great attitude and it’s a loss that’s going to be felt all the way around.”
Butler leaves behind many family and friends, including his 7-year-old daughter, a girlfriend and her daughter.