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'He lit up every room': Friend remembers man killed by suspected drunk driver near Tampa airport

Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 03:57:03-05

TAMPA, Fla. -- Friends say Billy Holzapfel, who was killed by a suspected drunk driver, had a positive impact on everyone he met.

According to newly-released court documents, the 23-year-old was in a rideshare going to the Tampa International Airport when a suspected drunk driver smashed into the car, killing him and the driver, Juan Santana Tortosa.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Wrong-way driver charged with DUI manslaughter in crash that killed two at Tampa airport entrance

Investigators say 30-year-old Alexander Jacobson admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking beers at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival and in Ybor City before deciding to drive himself home.

They say he was driving the wrong way on George J. Bean Parkway when he slammed into the rideshare vehicle.

"Billy gave us 200 years worth of memories in the 23 that he was here and that’s something that we’re going to miss is being able to make more of those memories," said longtime friend Byron Downen.

Downen says Billy flew into Tampa over the Gasparilla weekend to celebrate graduating from Northern Illinois University and landing a promising new job.

"It was contagious just how much fun he was having spending time with us, being in the atmosphere of Gasparilla," said Downen.

Downen says the two met a decade ago riding dirt bikes in Illinois and quickly became best friends.

Downen says friends and family members will honor Billy's life later this week in his hometown outside of Chicago.

"He just had one of those personalities that he lit up every room he walked into. He always had a smile on his face."