PLACIDA — “One Shot” didn’t refer to the amount of whiskey Matt Huffman liked to drink. The nickname came from his precision driving.
“Matt was a truck driver for 30 years, and all it would take to back into a tight space was one shot,” said Brandy Vindick. She was one of several friends who spoke Sunday during a celebration of life for her boyfriend Huffman, who died in a crash July 19. Huffman was driving his 2019 Harley-Davidson on State Road 776.
“Matt spent a lot of years on the road as a trucker. He was good at his job,” Vindick said. “Then he came from Michigan to Englewood to retire a few years ago. We had been together for just over a year. Everyone loved him. He would help anybody. He would take the shirt off his back. I miss our laughter and his smile.”
More than 150 friends gathered Sunday at Mookey’s Bar and Grill in Placida to remember Huffman. He was riding just ahead of “Tokie” Bobby Pridemore, a well-known biker, who collided with an SUV at about the same time in a separate accident just a few yards from the one that killed Huffman. Another rider from Wisconsin, Bob Devlin, was near Pridemore and also crashed. Pridemore remains at Lee Memorial Hospital in serious condition. He’s had several operations including one last week. Devlin was hospitalized and released.
After the tragedy, bikers approached Mukesh Patel, owner of Mookey’s, to hold the memorial at the bar.
“Of course it was OK for everyone to come here and remember Matt,” Patel said. “I’ve known him since he moved here. We were friends. He came here three times a week.”
Nick Cuoco asked the group, which included Huffman’s boss from Cape Haze Hardware Store, to raise their glasses in memory of Huffman. They also took a group photo and told stories about Huffman, who especially liked to fix old lamps at the hardware store.
“Matt was a really good man,” Cuoco said.
Friend Tyler Roberts chimed in, saying, “This one’s for Matt, who liked his whiskey.”
“He was so caring,” Roberts said. “I loved to make him laugh. I cooked him burgers. We did a lot of laughing. He was an awesome man.”
On Feb. 15, Huffman was the best man at his friend Cheryl and Chip Carr’s wedding at Tokie Bobby’s Broken Bike bar in the Gulf Cove area, just west of the El Jobean Bridge.
“We had such a good day all together,” Cheryl said showing off photos from the wedding.
Inside the bar, Joe Urbano approached the microphone. He asked everyone to settle down. Then he shared a story about Huffman and ended saying the 56-year-old Rotonda West resident died too soon.
“Losing Matt was hard for all of us,” he said. “We all need to take care of Brandy now.”
Vindick said Huffman taught her how to ride a motorcycle and bought her one. However, it was totaled by one of the riders in the crash. Huffman’s family came from out of state and took his vehicle and dog. Vindrick quickly had to find a new place to live.
“I will be all right,” she said. “It’s all a shock. We are all dealing with Matt’s loss day by day.”