A homeless man who has recently been dressing up as Santa Claus and waving to motorists was struck by a vehicle and killed Monday night in Hudson.
James Kenneth Bryant, 49, was walking west across the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 approaching Beacon Woods drive around 9 p.m. when he was hit by a Toyota Avalon, the Florida Highway Patrol said. He died at the scene.
Bryant had recently been dressing as Santa and waving to motorists on U.S. 19 and Beacon Woods Drive.
"The little kids, they stick their faces in the windows and it brings a tear to your eyes," Bryant recently told freelance photojournalist Bryan Farrow. "They're like, 'hi Santa!" Little old ladies drop off big batches of cookies. ... For the past week, everybody has been taking photos."
Last year, local media outlets did stories on Bryant after his beloved dog, Hanover, disappeared. Bryant had said the dog was the only thing he had in his life and he kept him going after he lost his wife to cancer.
The community got together, found the dog and returned him to Bryant. But the dog disappeared again.
According to Dan Kolb, a spokesperson for the local transitional housing and substance abuse center ACTS, Bryant participated in a program there and stayed clean for more than six months.
But last week, he left left the program and was not heard or seen from again.
Bryant was not wearing his Santa suit at the time of the crash.
The driver of the Avalon, 27-year-old Nicholas Giovinazzi of Wesley Chapel, was not injured. Charges are pending, the FHP said.