TAMPA, Fla. — Thursday marks a week before the start of the Florida State Fair. It also marks five years since 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III was hit and killed walking near I-4 after he and about 100 other minors were kicked off the property.
It happened on student day in 2014. Since then, Andrew’s parents, Andrew Joseph Jr. and Deanna, have set aside their personal pain in his memory by working to improve safety for all kids going to the fair.
"Our hope is for awareness for the families. Knowing what you're signing up for." Deanna said. "There are systems in place that could implicate your family and you could be in the same situation that we're in."
Several changes went into place two years ago when his family created the Andrew Joseph Foundation safety plan.
Some of the changes the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office made include allowing any teen detained the opportunity to call home. Deputies have also pushed for improved lighting in and around the fairgrounds.
The Joseph family have also asked for more sidewalks and crosswalks, which they say are still not there.
This year, as part of their five-year fight for justice, the Joseph family is focusing on gun safety. They want parents aware that firearms are allowed at the fair, even on student day.
“There should be a permission slip that goes home, that informs the parents there are guns, gang activity, a lot that goes on, do you want your child to participate,” Andrew said.
This year the Joseph family is hosting several community events when the fair starts.
They plan to have a panel discussion Thurs., February 7 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at The Well care Welcome Room, located at 200 E. Waters Ave, Tampa, 33604.
The focus of the panel discussion will be, “What happened to Officer Friendly?”
“When I was growing up our parents always told us to find 'Officer Friendly,'" Deanna said. "He was the person that if you're ever in an emergency, you would find a nice officer and he would help you. Well, we are not seeing that today."
Friday, Feb. 8, they’re inviting the public to attend a demonstration called “Protect Our Children on Student Day” from Noon until 9 p.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds, located at 4800 US Hwy 301 North Tampa, 33610.
Saturday, February 9th, an 'Evening of Arts Benefit' will be held at 6 p.m. at the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association, located at 2005 N. Lamar Ave, Tampa, 33602.
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