HUDSON — Joe Wayne McBroom carried a Bible in his lunch box every day. On lunch breaks, he read it aloud to the men he worked with.
His mother, Ann McBroom, said he often took that Bible with him — including Sunday evening, when he drove to Publix to buy the newspaper. His wife wanted the coupons.
On the return trip up U.S. 41, near Parsley Lane, another car spun into Joe McBroom’s path and collided with his Ford truck. McBroom, 42, died in the head-on crash. So did three people in the other car: driver Edith Busto, 60, and passengers Juan M. Alas, 63, and Carmen Rosa Gomez-Lopez, 49, all of Tampa. None of them was wearing a seat belt. Their relatives declined to comment.
Another passenger, Jorge Luis Busto Almarales, 48, of Tampa was flown to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in serious condition. A third car hit the wreckage, but its occupants were not injured.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Busto lost control of her Volkswagen after passing a southbound car in a no-passing zone on the two-lane highway. The road still slick with rain, Busto skidded back into the northbound lane. McBroom had nowhere to go.
His wife, Wendy, became worried when he didn’t return. She called the FHP, was told there had been an accident nearby with fatalities. She and her husband’s parents rushed to the scene.
McBroom’s parents arrived about 6 p.m., about 15 minutes after the crash. They saw the truck, the front smashed in. They saw a body next to it, covered with a sheet.
His mother knew he was under it. She knew he was gone.
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Joe McBroom’s family gathered in his parents’ home Monday. His parents, sister, close friend and grandmother, Doris Wilson, 91, were together. On the ottoman, a newspaper was open to the article about his death. Next to it, a stack of pictures of him as a little boy.
In an old, faded photograph, a young Joe McBroom with curly blond hair wore a cowboy hat with pale corn silk draped across his upper lip to form a mustache. In another, he was stuffed inside a black snowsuit when they still lived in Kansas before moving to Seminole in 1976.
Ann McBroom, 69, recounted stories with Wilson while her husband and daughter took phone calls. Ann McBroom talked about taking him to church as a little boy. He would stand in the pews and try to direct the choir.
She used to take her children with her to work on Saturdays, when their day care was closed. They were allowed to stay in the lunchroom, and they would put together “magic shows,” performing feats using borrowed chairs. She said co-workers would leave nickels on the table for the performers.
Little Joe McBroom drew scenes of his life, starting when he was still in elementary school, in a comic strip he titled “Joey.” Ann McBroom said the strip often left her in tears from laughing so hard.
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Joe McBroom, an electrician, wanted to be a graphic artist. He dreamed of children and made early plans to adopt with his wife.
He had a number of hobbies. He built cigar box guitars with three strings. He went to church regularly, played the guitars he built, liked fishing and bowling with friends. Just hours before the car crash, he brought a dog he had just adopted, Max, a year-old dachshund, to his parents’ home to meet them.
Ann McBroom said he chased the little dog through their spacious yard, laughing, that afternoon. “He was happy,” she said. She paused, then went on, “It’s just so hard. It wasn’t his fault.”
He had no plans for his death. Ann McBroom said his family never thought about it. Not for a man in his early 40s.
Now his family is trying to decide whether to choose cremation or a full casket. When and where the funeral will be. Whether they should have a separate memorial service.
“I hope I said everything I needed to say,” Ann McBroom said. “It happened so fast.”
Times staff writer Michael Finch II contributed to this report. Mary Kenney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.