HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (WWSB) - A retired Sarasota firefighter and paramedic was killed early Sunday morning in a crash on I-75 in Hillsborough County while he did what he was trained to do - help others in need.
Wesley Weysham, 59, of North Port was driving southbound on I-75 around 4:30am when he came upon a crash. Troopers say 32-year-old George Evans III of Ruskin, FL was driving drunk when he stopped on the inside travel lane and was struck by a vehicle driven by 31-year-old Veronica Gonzalez of Ruskin.
Weysham, seeing the crash, stopped and got out of his vehicle to help, rushing to the aid of Evans, pulling him from the vehicle and bringing him to the shoulder of the road to provide care.
A third vehicle driven by 24-year-old Samuel Flores of Ruskin didn’t see the crash until it was too late and hit Evans’ vehicle, which flew into Weysham, killing him, before bursting into flames.
Weysham, who the Tampa Bay Times reports was a Navy veteran of the Gulf War, was also a retired Sarasota firefighter and paramedic. Weysham joined Sarasota K9 Search & Rescue in 1998 as a volunteer K9 handler and before his retirement served as Land Navigation Instructor. He was a firefighter and paramedic with the Sarasota County Fire Department from June 2007 until June 2017.
In a statement, Sarasota County Emergency Services said, “As many of you know we lost one of our own yesterday, and we are devastated. Thank you for your support of his family. He was a true example of a public servant and was still actively serving his community. He spent his entire career helping others and his commitment to community service was unwavering.”
Evans and Flores suffered minor injuries in the crash, while Gonzalez suffered serious injuries. I-75 South was closed for five hours while troopers investigated the accident and Florida Highway Patrol says charges are pending.
On Monday, Weysham's family released the following statement:
"Wes was a beloved Husband, stepfather, grandfather and friend. He was patriotic and absolutely loved this country.
"Wes served in the United States Navy from 1977-1982, followed by service in the Navy Reserve. Wes has volunteered with the nonprofit group Sarasota K9 Search & Rescue since 1998, first as a K9 Handler and more recently as a Land Navigation Instructor.
"He was a member of the Sarasota County Fire Department from 2007-2017.
"As a dedicated first responder, Wes had a high sense of integrity, which drove everything he did.
"Known both personally and professionally as a mentor with a huge heart, he could also be silly and loved cracking jokes. Wes was all about community and making sure everyone was OK. He would give the shirt off his back and go out of his way to help others, even if that meant being the first one in to face danger.
“Thank you to everyone for your outpouring of support at this unimaginable time of grief.”
If you’d like to donate to their GoFundMe, you can do so here.
The county held a press conference Monday about the death of Weysham. You can watch that below: