Gary Nager Editorial

As a father and now a grandfather, I can’t imagine anything harder for any parent to deal with than their child passing away.

But sadly, more than 20,000 children die of all causes in this country each year, or more than 50 per day, and while motor vehicle crashes cause the largest percentage of those (more than 4,000 in 2016, the last year I could find full statistics for), roughly the same number of children (more than 1,800 each in 2016) are victims of homicide each year as die from all forms of childhood cancer.

But, this editorial isn’t about statistics, it’s about the passing of one precious child named Andres Chateau. Andres — a nine-year-old Wesley Chapel resident who attended the Innovation Prep Academy off Curley Rd. — and his father, Kevin Bybee, were both found shot dead in Bybee’s apartment in St. Petersburg in an apparent murder-suicide.

Andres’ mother, Jessica Chateau, had gone to Bybee’s apartment on April 4 to pick up her son, but got no response when she knocked on the door. She notified the St. Pete Police Department but they were reluctant to enter the premises because, according to a police spokesperson, there was no reason to suspect foul play and none of Bybee’s neighbors had heard anything unusual.

The next morning, the management at the Trellis at the Lakes apartments opened the apartment for Jessica, who found Andres and Bybee dead from gunshot wounds.

According to published reports, Bybee and Jessica Chateau were estranged and involved in a contentious custody suit, “but there had been no threats or signs beforehand” that this type of tragedy would occur.

On April 10, less than one week after the tragedy, at least 300 Wesley Chapel residents came to the Epperson Lagoon to celebrate Andres’ life. Jessica had posted the event on Facebook a couple of days earlier and many of those in attendance brought food, beverages and their own children to take part in the celebration. PizzaMania donated at least 20 pies and Pasco County Commission candidate Troy Stevenson brought two of his ACME On The Go billboard trucks, which displayed pictures of Andres and Jessica from happier times. Troy also called his friends at Pasco Fire Rescue, who brought one of their fire trucks to the event. 

There wasn’t anyone in attendance who didn’t want to speak with and hug Jessica, who talked about giving birth and holding him for the first time. “I called him Tutu because he was too too much,” she said.

Pastor Joel Eason of nearby Bridgeway Church spoke during the candle light service at the lagoon, which was held at sunset. He spoke about the light that Andres brought into the lives of everyone he touched.

“My son was pure sunshine,” Jessica told WTSP-TV Channel 10. “He was just full of energy and loved playing. I have every moment burned into my brain…Just appreciate every moment with your babies.”

My sons are 33 and 30 and it just so happened it was my younger son’s birthday the same day of the event for Andres.

And, while I definitely feel fortunate to still have and be able to share such happy occasions with my boys and my grandson, I could feel Jessica’s pain, even as she seemed genuinely moved by the community’s outpouring of love. 

Her ability to smile in the face of such unspeakable tragedy definitely inspired me and I promised her I would try to do justice to her and her relationship with her beautiful son, even though I knew I would fall short. 

There is a GoFundMe page to help Jessica Chateau. Visit if you would like to help.

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