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‘I just want my baby back’: Mom of 17-year-old crash victim speaks after suspected drunk driver bonds out

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s been a heart-wrenching week for GayLee Steele. The mother of two lost her 17-year-old son, Mikeal, in a motorcycle crash Sunday night. The suspected drunk driver, who troopers say pulled out in front of the teen, has since been released on a $50,500 bond.

There’s a growing roadside memorial near the site of the crash on U.S. 301 and 42nd Avenue Road E. in Ellenton. Steele says she’s been visiting it daily for several hours.

“It is really hard to get through day by day. You think of something, you see something and you just remember… He is such an amazing kid and so good looking and he was nice. He would help anybody. He would open doors for people, he just went out of his way to be that extra special kid that everyone wants their kid to be, he was it,” said the teen’s mother.

Steele says Mikeal had big dreams and a bright future ahead, considering working as a firefighter/EMT in Parrish or possibly joining the Army.

“I know he was only 17, but he had such a full life,” said Steele. “He had great grades, he had great friends, he enjoyed life, he was just so athletic and but he didn’t ever let it go to his head,” she continued.

Steele took one last motorcycle ride with her son the night before the accident. She told 8 On Your Side he had been riding bikes since he was young.

“I just want my baby back,” Steele said.

A Bradenton high school student started a petition this week pushing for increased penalties on DUI charges. The Change.org petition has pulled in more than 2,100 signatures in just a few days. GayLee signed the petition Wednesday night. She says she cannot wrap her head around how David Shanks was released.

“If you killed somebody, it should be law, you shouldn’t be out because if he has done it once or twice before, he will do it again,” said the teen’s mother. “It took a second for him to make the wrong decision and I just can’t wrap my head around why. It was just senseless. This never should’ve happened,” she continued.

“A Night for Steele”

The deadly crash happened outside Shake Station owned by Andy Ameres. He’s been working over the last few days to support the Steele family during this devastating time. He came up with a fundraising effort he’s calling “A Night for Steele.”

“It really struck hard. First of all, it happened right in my front yard, right here. That alone and then the impact that had on the employees that work for me, a lot of them were friends of his and they go to school with him and then seeing all of the community and the kids coming here and then finally seeing GayLee the mother coming here and giving her a big hug and just it just broke my heart,” Ameres said.

“Each restaurant and/or food truck will be hosting their own day or night to raise money for the Steele family so they can use it towards whatever they need to help ease some of the pain and expenses endured during this in fathomable time. We are beyond appreciative for everyone’s continued support and prayers to the family on both sides of the river, near and far. GayLee Steele would like to thank everyone personally from the bottom of her heart for the way this community came together for her in these most difficult times. Below, each restaurant and/or food truck will be listed in chronological order based on dates. If you need their contact information for directions etc. please look it up online. Again, hope to see everyone at every spot supporting this family!! Thank you so much and God bless you all and God bless the Steele family,” said Andy Ameres in a Facebook post.

  • Sea Hut/Crab Trap 10/30 5pm-9pm
  • Shake Station 11/2 5pm-9pm
  • Chili’s 6010 Us 301 N Ellenton, Fl 34222 11/3 5pm-9pm This will be takeout & curbside only.
  • Ferraro’s Italian Grille 11/4 5pm-9pm
  • TK Grill & Barbecue 11/5 5pm-9pm
  • Ricky Gullett (Sunny Tomatoes) 11/6 3pm-7pm
  • Popi’s Place Port Manatee 11/7 4pm-8pm
  • Butterfields Restaurant 11/8 7am-11am
  • Popi’s Place Downtown Palmetto 11/9 4pm-8pm
  • Popi’s Place Ellenton 11/10 4pm-8pm
  • Chumlee’s Wings 11/11 4pm-8pm
  • BubbaQue’s BBQ-Bradenton 11/15 5pm-9pm
  • Sonny’s BBQ 11/16 5pm-9pm
  • Subz-N-Grubz 11/17 4pm-8pm
  • Hickory Hollow 11/18 4pm-8pm

The Parrish community has created a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs.

Mikeal Steele’s celebration of life will be held this weekend.

“It is so amazing the amount that Parrish Community has stood by me and how many lives and Michael touched. I never knew how many,” said Steele.

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