John Foster Courtney, 29, of St. Louis was struck at about 12:30 a.m. Monday as he crossed Manchester Avenue outside of Novak’s in the heart of The Grove. He succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital at about 11:30 p.m. that night.
Charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident is Justin Kramarczyk, 24, also of the city. Kramarczyk was observed drinking prior to the incident, according to a probable cause statement from police investigators. Additional charges are expected in the case.
“It is a classic tragedy, I think,” said Jefferson City based attorney Jason Hall, a friend of Courtney’s. “So many lives were adversely impacted by an incident in the matter of a few seconds. It’s almost unfathomable.”
Many in The Grove neighborhood are demanding changes be made to slow down traffic in the entertainment district. Concerns were addressed by the city earlier today (July 6).
A $2.8 million project paid for by federal stimulus dollars is nearly complete. Once finished, city officials say traffic traveling along 10 blocks of Manchester between Taylor and Hemp will follow a speed limit of at least 35 miles per hour due to narrowing driving lanes.
Further, The St. Louis Police Department announced that starting this evening Traffic Enforcement Officers will have an increased presence in The Grove Neighborhood along Manchester, especially during the evening/early morning hours when there is the most activity.
“We were extremely close,” recalled Hall, who was with Foster that final night. “He was someone I talked to every day and the hub of our social life for our closest friends. He was obviously a very smart guy. He was very much the social extrovert who was the kind of guy who brought people together across a wide, diverse range.”
“There’s always that person in social groups who is kind of the glue that binds everybody together and he was that guy for all of us,” continued Hall. “He was the organizer. He was the guy who made sure we had concert tickets four months out. He was the master planner and our weekends started and ended at his house.”
Hailing from Memphis, a small Northeastern Missouri town near the Iowa boarder, Courtney graduated from Culver-Stockton College in Canton in 2004 and quickly moved to St. Louis.
“He was proud of his small-town roots in Memphis, Missouri,” Hall said. “But Foster passionately embraced the urban lifestyle of St. Louis. He started out in the Central West End and eventually bought a condo in Fox Park. He embraced all that the city had to offer and for a take charge guy who liked to do things and get out there, it had a lot to offer.”
Courtney was a man of varied interests from world travel to sports. He was a member of the local gay kickball and St. Louis Crusaders rugby team. Courtney’s professional life was equally important to him. In 2005 he started out at the Millennium Hotel in Human Resources where he excelled and for the past several years had worked as a Talent Management and Organizational Development Specialist at Corizon.
“From an LGBT perspective, he was an out male in a corporate setting,” explained Hall. “But he was a guy who made the community proud by just being who he was. I think he was a great role model for our community in that sense because it takes all types for our community to go forward.”
An only child, Courtney is survived by his mother and a host of extended family and friends. Funeral arrangements are pending as are plans for a local memorial.
In lieu of flowers the family directs donations be made to Culver-Stockton College c/o Courtney Memorial Scholarship; or Mid-America Transplant Services. The Courtney Memorial Scholarship account is in planning stages right now, but you can contact Eric Barkley in the Culver Advancement Office at 573-288-6463 about supporting this fund. The scholarship will be needs-based for a business student at Culver-Stockton.
Reporters Note: It should be noted that widely shared Facebook posts stating that Foster Courtney was taken off of life support by family are false. In fact assisted techniques were used to maintain integrity of his organs while a donor match could be found. The Courtney family wanted organ donation to be Courtney’s final gift.
BY: COLIN MURPHY – SENIOR WRITER