Deputies recover part of stolen memorial honoring beloved Manatee County teen

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – The last month has been an emotional rollercoaster for the family of 17-year-old Mikeal Steele. The teen was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver in Oct. 2020.

The memorial honoring his life vanished three times within a matter of weeks, according to his family.

Andy Ameres owns the restaurant Shake Station nearby where the deadly crash happened last year. The memorial honoring Mikeal sat at the corner of his property for the last year.

It’s become a popular spot for friends and family to mourn and remember the beloved student athlete and Parrish Community High School student.

“This is where people came here to mourn his death and his family and talk to him. That is all gone. Somebody took that away from them,” said Ameres. “Regardless of if it was a personal thing or what the motive was, who would do that in their right mind if they have half a heart?”

Mikeal’s mother GayLee Steele recreated the memorial each time it vanished. The most recent time, she put a GPS tracking device on one of the items, hoping it would lead her to the person responsible.

Deputies with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to 8 On Your Side Thursday they’re actively investigating the case. In the early evening hours, the teen’s mother met with a deputy who returned four crosses from the memorial to her. The deputy wouldn’t comment on where or how the items were found.

Steele’s mother says several personal items are still missing including her son’s soccer cleats. She is staying hopeful they’ll be recovered as well.

Ameres shared this message to whoever took the items from the roadside memorial.

“Put yourself in GayLee’s shoes. It is her son that passed away. Those things may not mean a lot to you, but they mean everything to her so do the right thing and return it. Return it at my doorstep at Shake Station or anonymously, whatever you need to do. Just do the right thing,” said Ameres.

8 On Your Side requested more information from deputies after a few of the items were found and returned to the Steele family. As of Thursday evening, we are still waiting to learn more.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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