Apollo Beach Skate Park Renamed For Teen Shot On New Year’s Eve

Family and friends, along with countless supporters of Ruskin teen Diego Duran were pleased to hear the news that Hillsborough County’s recently completed skateboard park in Apollo Beach has been renamed as the Diego Duran Skateboard Plaza.
The naming of the brand new 11,000-sq.-ft. street plaza, located at 664 Golf and Sea Blvd. in Apollo Beach, was unanimously approved by the County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in honor of Duran, who was injured on New Year’s Eve as the result of celebratory gunfire when a stray bullet fell from the sky and struck him in the head.
“We appreciate everyone’s love and support of Diego and the Duran family every step of the way,” said Diego’s mother, Sandy Duran as she talked about the community’s continued support and desire to see her son’s speedy and full recovery.
With a number of surgeries behind him and still ways from a complete recovery, which will involve improving his speech and occupational and physical therapy, Sandy is pleased with her son’s progress.
“He is such a brave young boy,” she said. “He is now doing great. Considering what has happened. He has come a long way.”
County officials scheduled a grand opening and unveiling celebration for the new Apollo Beach Skate Park on Saturday, September 8, and invited everyone to join the new facility that will provide a source of recreation for hundreds of local and surrounding area youth.
The park is a $499,849 project, funded by impact fees. Team Pain and Charlotte Engineering and Surveying worked under Flores and Harper Construction Co. as part of the design, permitting and construction team.
Besides bearing his name on a skate park, Diego’s experience also raises awareness of the fact that celebratory gunfire is a reality.
To raise such awareness about the dangers of celebratory gunfire, the Durant family launched Bullet Free Sky, a campaign of a nonprofit effort founded about a month after Diego’s accident, and was officially announced in April.
“You don’t need a gun to celebrate,” Sandy said. “Shooting in the air is no way to celebrate. Our mission is to educate people and to create world-wide awareness of the dangers of celebratory gunfire and the dangers of negligent gun use. We believe that together, we can save lives.”
The campaign sells $5 rubber wristbands with “Bullet Free Sky” written on one side and Diego’s signature on the other with proceeds going toward buying other items, such as T-shirts and bumper stickers.
“Wristbands are an easy way to get the word out,” said Diego’s godmother, Kat Chiu, who has taken upon herself to publicize the campaign.
“We are not against guns or gun ownership,” she said. “But, we are against people using guns negligently. We want to ensure that what has happened to Diego will not happen to other people.”
No one has been arrested and no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility as the investigation continues.
For more information about and to support Diego and the family’s campaign, please visit www.bulletfreesky.com.
Complete Skate Park Rules and waiver are available online. For more information, contact the Parks, Recreation and Conservation department at 635-3500.