TAMPA - More than 15 friends and fellow motorcycle enthusiasts gathered along the eastbound lanes of the Courtney Campbell Causeway Thursday night to remember Keith Williamson.
The 26-year-old died in a motorcycle crash Wednesday night that is shrouded in controversy.
"This didn't have to happen," said Morgan, a friend of Williamson's.
Adjacent to where Williamson died, there is now a cross bearing his name which is surrounded by flowers and cards. Friends cried as they lit candles and said their goodbyes.
"He was only 26," Morgan said while crying.
Williamson, an avid and experienced rider according to friends, joined up with six other friends to ride their motorcycles. They say the left a gas station in Clearwater and were heading eastbound on the Courtney Campbell around 10:30 p.m.
All of the riders openly admit they were speeding and doing wrong, going well over 100 mph. According to one of the riders, who asked not to be identified, an unmarked black Camaro came racing up behind them
"I thought it was some kid but then it looked like the Fourth of July," said the male rider.
The driver of the Camaro turned out to be a Clearwater police officer and he had turned on his lights.
As the chase continued, three of the riders say they pulled to the right and reduced their speed.
"He just flew right by us on the side," said Miguel, who was riding behind Williamson.
Miguel said the officer sped off toward Williamson and came up inches behind his bike. Then, according to Miguel, a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser there to bring attention to on-going construction pulled out into the right hand lane and stopped. Miguel said Williamson was sandwiched between both cars and could not stop. He ultimately ended up hitting the back of the FHP cruiser throwing his girlfriend from the bike.
But, police told ABC Action News things occurred differently.
They say when the chase reached speeds of 127 miles per hour, the officer immediately ended the chase.
"The officer attempted to overtake the vehicle," said Steve Gaskins with the Florida Highway Patrol.
According to police, they where not closely following Williamson when he crashed.
Williamson's girlfriend who was riding on the bike along with him was taken to the hospital. According to Williamson's friends she is not aware her boyfriend died. She is also recovering from two punctured lungs and a shattered pelvis.
An FHP investigation will now have to determine who was at fault.
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