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Man who stopped Matlacha runaway driver speaks; island's "Grandma" killed.

"The police asked me, 'Did you intentionally block the guy?' and I was like, No, I just panicked," said the driver a pickup who happened to end the runaway driver's ride.
Mary Lou Sharp victim Matlacha fatal crash April 13
Posted at 8:38 PM, Apr 14, 2024

MATLACHA, Fla. — By Sunday night, people had begun to leave flowers outside of That BBQ Place on Matlacha where troopers say a Cape Coral man drove into some outdoor seating, killing an 80-year-old woman and injuring four others ages 55 and up on Saturday.

"I saw this like big commotion in the distance and it sort of like coming towards me and people yelling and screaming," said Steven Buechner, the owner of Cape Coral Kayak on Matlacha.

A site and sound Buechner won't forget as he was the final stop, so to speak, in the deadly crash that left damage along a stretch of Pine Island Road on the island.

"You know, time goes really slow when there's people suffering on the ground," said Buechner.

Matlacha fatal crash diners April 13
Crime scene tape wraps around the car believed to be connected to a fatal crash on Matlacha the night of April 13. Witnesses claim a driver came over the bridge and hit outside diners. State troopers confirmed one fatality and were working the scene as of 9:00pm April 13, 2024.

Buechner happened to be driving toward the scene in his pickup. After he saw tables flying and people rolling over a car that was barreling towards him, he says he just stopped in his tracks as the 24-year-old driver continued on.

"The police asked me, 'Did you intentionally block the guy?' and I was like, No, I just panicked," said Buechner. "Sure enough, he swerved back into the road and came and hit me so I had several people thank me."

Steve Beuchner Matlacha crash stopped driver
"The police asked me, 'Did you intentionally block the guy?' and I was like, No, I just panicked," said Steve Buechner, the day after a runaway driver hit his pickup truck. "Sure enough, he swerved back into the road and came and hit me so I had several people thank me." The runaway driver had hit 5 people when he plowed into an outdoor seating area on Matlacha April 13.

Now as Steve works through what he witnessed, the people of Matlacha and the Greater Pine Island area are leaning on one another as the woman they call the "Pioneer of Pine Island" is now gone.

Family and friends told several Fox 4 community correspondents they were reeling at the loss of Mary Lou Sharp. Fox 4 was also the first to speak with Sharps' family about the long time Southwest Floridian.

Pine Island community mourns the loss of the islands' "Grandma"
Pine Island community mourns the loss of the islands' "Grandma"

"We're a small community and we're very tight. We know each other, so to know what happened to one of our own, we're very upset," Carol Scott, said just a few hours after it happened, Saturday night. Scott said Mary Lou was her friend.

"We all feel like we lost our grandma, you know," said Matthew Lee, a friend of Mary Lou and Butch.

Mary Lou's son, Eugene Geer, sent Fox 4 this photo of them together and he says he was "at a loss for words."

Pine Island community mourns the loss of the islands' "Grandma"
Pine Island community mourns the loss of the island's "Grandma"

"I've just been breaking up all morning trying to keep myself together to come do this kind of stuff, but you know, it's the best thing for the community and then try to try to heal," said Lee.

Friends and family say Mary Lou and her boyfriend Butch Gay were at That BBQ Place Saturday night like they always were, so they were outside when the driver came barreling through. They say Butch Gay did survive the crash.

Mary Lou Sharp victim Matlacha
Mary Lou Sharp's son shared this photo of Sharp with her boyfriend, Butch Gay.

"When we got the news last night do we play? Do we not play? and they looking back and knowing them was like, they would have wanted us. Mary Lou would want us to play," said Lee.

They say Mary Lou and Butch spent every Sunday at Street Eatz listening to live music, and even singing some themselves, but now that music becomes a hymn in memory of this community's "Grandma" and in support of Butch.

"They would be sitting down right under that blue umbrella right there, right up front and center," said Lee. "We're gonna miss her death. We've all been broken up and I don't even know like loss for words."

Fox 4 has since learned the identity of the Cape Coral driver arrested in the case and is waiting for State Troopers to verify it. Troopers maintain the investigation is still active.