Memorial bench honors Tampa teen hit, killed by speeding deputy

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The parents of a Tampa teen hit and killed by a Hillsborough County deputy got a permanent reminder of their son’s presence Friday.

Josiah Pinner, 15, was hit and killed by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Philip Montesi while crossing North Florida Avenue Jan. 11. The teen’s middle school, Buchanan Middle School raised over a thousand dollars for a bench in his honor and set it up underneath his favorite spot on campus.

“We still cry. I still don’t sleep don't eat. I try to get by for the girls, but it's just hard,” said Joanne Rojas, Josiah’s mother.

He was the only son amongst her children.

“There's no words. There's no comfort that will ever bring him back,” said Savannah Rosa, Josiah's stepmother.

On Friday evening, Josiah became a permanent part of his community.

“It means a lot to know that he was loved by so many everywhere at the school, the neighborhood, everywhere,” said Tammy Pinner, Josiah's grandmother.

The location of the bench is significant to Josiah.

“When Josiah would get aggravated or mad in class, he'll come out here and sit under this tree,” said Rojas.

So his school wanted others to feel a part of him when they come to the spot.

“What a better place to do it than to put a bench out here, a buddy bench? So if anybody else is having a hard time, they can be with Josiah,” said Scott Hilgenberg, Josiah's principal at Buchanan Middle School.

His memory lives on now through his family and friends.

“He was always happy. If you were mad, he would do something to make you smile, or that's what I want them to remember is the happy kid that he was,” said Rojas.

The deputy involved was suspended for five days after the incident for violating sheriff's office procedures, and no charges were filed.