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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 4 years ago

Zota victims' families remember loved ones

Kevin Carter and Timothy Hurley are remembered for their devotion to their families.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor
Thomas Swigeart and Kevin Carter Courtesy photo

With an imposing frame, standing taller than most, Kevin Carter was a perfect example of someone who wasn’t anything like he seemed.

Timothy Hurley, with a big smile, was as kind as a first impression would suggest.

Carter, 51, a security guard with Victory Security, and Hurley, 59, the night desk manager at the Zota Beach Resort, were killed Aug. 4 during an early-morning robbery that police say netted $900. Police arrested Darryl Hanna Jr., 29, of Bradenton, on Aug. 9. He faces two counts of second-degree murder and one count of armed robbery.

While shock and sadness reverberate around the Longboat Key community, deeper sadness and sense of loss has hit family, friends and loved ones even harder. Carter and Hurley were two people with two families bound by their unwavering loyalty to care for their loved ones.

“He was big, he was burly and he was hairy, but he wasn’t mean,” said Thomas Swigeart, Carter’s partner of 24 years, describing him as a 6-foot-5 teddy bear. “So many have an impression that when you’re big and built and hairy, you’re a brute, but that’s just not true.”

Hurley’s niece, Kristine Geer, said her uncle would give anyone the shirt off his back. “Honestly, I don’t know about anybody else, but I haven’t even gotten mad yet,” she said. “I can’t give Darryl thought. It’s all about Tim still.”

Swigeart, Carter’s partner, suffers from a terminal illness, and he credits Carter with keeping him alive for the past 24 years.

“He was a very caring and warm person,” Swigeart said. “He wanted to help every day.”

Swigeart and Carter shared family. The first year Carter and Swigeart were together, they visited Swigeart’s parents for Christmas. As Swigeart recalls, his parents spent more time with Carter than with him. Carter was present for the birth of three of Swigeart’s grandchildren. The pair’s youngest grandchild, Gracie, was named for Carter’s grandmother.

Hurley provided for his mother and three sisters. He raised Geer, his niece, and two of her cousins.

Hurley’s selflessness followed him to work. At his funeral, a co-worker of Hurley’s approached Geer and told her she worked the 3-11 p.m. shift before Hurley. Each night, without fail, Hurley walked her to her car to make sure she got there safely.

“He was selfless, and it’s crazy because the way he died is the exact opposite of who he was,” Geer said. “And he always taught us to be good people and (about) karma — you just contribute good to the world and good will happen, which is something I’m trying to hold on to.”

Kristine Geer and Timothy Hurley Courtesy photo

When Geer graduated from University of South Florida last year, she found Hurley, who was smiling with flowers in his hand. He told Geer how proud he was of her and that she could do anything she could put her mind to.

“Tim was 100% my father in every sense of the word other than blood,” she said. “He taught me how to ride a bike, he taught me how to drive a car.”

When Carter wasn’t working, he and Swigeart spent their days kayaking and camping. Carter made and sold jewelry on the side for 30 years.

Swigeart said the publicity of the case has allowed more people to see what type of person Carter was, something that helps Swigeart grieve.

“Honestly, when they think of Kevin Carter, I really hope that they think about somebody who passed happy and doing what he enjoyed,” Swigeart said.

But that doesn’t fill the void Carter left behind.

“It’s tearing my daughter up, my grandkids up. I mean how do you explain to a 7-year-old that Pop Pop is never going to come home again?” Swigeart said.

Hurley would have turned 60 on Aug. 20. To commemorate, his family spent the day doing some of his favorite things. After bringing flowers to his gravesite, they got dessert, because Hurley had a sweet tooth, and ended the day watching “Star Trek” and “Game of Thrones,” two of his favorites.

Geer wants people to remember Hurley’s smile and generosity.

He was “just a genuinely caring guy, and I don’t understand how it could happen to him, but the world is a scary place right now,” she said.


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