Tampa Police continue to investigate a crash involving two motorcycles, that shut down the Courtney Campbell Causeway westbound for more than five hours Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning.
Leilanie Ortiz, 26, and known to friends as Lanie, died in the accident. Her boyfriend, 27-year-old Justin Battiest was seriously injured and remains hospitalized.
"My sister was a very special girl. She had a heart of gold and a soul--that if anyone who ever ran into her, they all loved her," said Chrisandra Truman, Lanie's sisster.
Ortiz was riding her motorcycle on the causeway Saturday night alongside her new boyfriend, Justin Battiest when both of them crashed. Battiest's bike burst into flames and paramedics rushed in to do CPR, getting him to the hospital, where he's still recovering. Lanie Ortiz was taken to the hospital, where she died.
Tampa Police continue investigating how the crash happened, but Lanie's sister says despite speculation on social media, the couple wasn't racing.
"They went out on a date together and on the way back, she'd advanced in front of him, he went to catch up. His motorcycle had lost control. She tried to veer off to avoid the crash and was propelled from her own motorcycle after it lost control," Truman said.
Lanie loved to ride her motorcycle. After losing her mother a year ago, she almost sold the bike. But she kept it, and her sister says she took personal safety seriously.
"You need to be cautious as a driver, and she was. She wore her helmet every time. She wore her gloves every time. And god chooses what time to take people. Every person has their appointment with God. And unfortunately, only the good die young," Truman said.
Lanie's family is taking comfort in knowing her young life mattered to *hundreds of kids in Tampa Bay. For the last six years, she worked with the "Cops' N Kids" after school program in Tarpon Springs. She was a semester away from finishing a degree in social work.
The children she mentored are devastated "Miss Lo" is gone, but many are grateful for the impact she had.
"She will live on in every heart of every person she ever came into contact with. There's not one person she met that won't remember the type of person she is. They'll remember her for her heart and her soul, and her laugh, and her ability to bring joy to every single person she's ever met and ever touched their life," said Truman.
Lanie Ortiz's family says they also want to make it clear they don't blame anyone for what happened.
A GoFund Me page has been set up to help cover Lanie's memorial costs.