JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – “Wrong place. Wrong time.”
That is the phrase Joseph Michael Girardot’s family keeps using as they try and make sense of losing their son and brother.
Mikey, as the family referred to him, was on his way home from work at Winn-Dixie about 11:30 p.m. Monday when he was struck and killed in a high-speed crash on Third Street North near 11th Avenue North in Jacksonville Beach.
He was driving a red Ford Focus that surveillance video showed was forced off the road by a white Ford F-150 going at a high rate of speed. Police are still working to get toxicology reports on the driver of the pickup to determine if drugs or alcohol was a factor.
Robert Girardot, his father, describes Michael as a lifelong child of the Beaches, growing up on Atlantic Beach.
“We spent so many days and evenings there, playing and living life to the fullest together, biking, swimming, surfing, flying radio control airplanes, watching Blue Angels air shows, football, fireworks displays, sea turtle hatchings, you name it,” Robert said.
The family still in disbelief that his life ended so abruptly.
"Mike was an exemplary citizen, wonderful son and a very careful and considerate driver. It is so ironic that his life, that was so full of potential, could end just because he was coming home from work and following all of the traffic laws,” Robert said.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Michael Girardot Smile Fund.
"For those of you who knew Mikey, he was an incredibly generous, loving and gentle soul. He had a heart of gold and was always putting others first. His final gift to this world was to give countless other families hope for another tomorrow through healing by donating his organs. No parent or sibling should ever have to go through this, but as a family, we wanted to honor Michael in some way and help bring some positivity out of this tragedy,” Robert said.
The 28-year-old driver of the pickup truck has been released from the hospital and has not yet been charged in this accident.