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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Local dentist dies after car catches fire

A local dentist who owned his own practice and served as a University Athletic Association dental consultant died early Friday after his car caught fire in a Gainesville driveway.

Thomas Joseph Weber, 44, of Gainesville, was pronounced dead on the scene by Alachua County Fire Rescue officials after his car caught fire in the front yard of his parent’s house, located at 7205 NW 47th Court, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At about 1 a.m. Friday, FHP reported that Weber was driving his 1998 Acura “erratically” before he crashed into the driveway of the house, hitting a parked car and the garage door.

He then hit a tree stump, causing his car to catch fire, and couldn’t get out before it was engulfed in flames.

Weber owned a dental practice on Northwest 41st Street. According to his practice’s website, Weber had a wife and three children. He grew up in Gainesville and earned his doctor of dental medicine from UF’s College of Dentistry in 1995.

For about 10 years, Weber served as a dental consultant for the UAA, said John Barrett, assistant director of sports health and athletic trainer for UF’s women’s basketball team.

Barrett said Weber will be missed as a dentist and as a friend.

Even when Weber’s office was closed, Barrett said Weber would always come in to help an athlete.

On several occasions, Weber attended pre-participation physicals on his own time to help mold mouthpieces for athletes, Barrett said.

“When we needed something, he was literally a phone call away,” Barrett said. “He went above and beyond for the well-being of the athlete.”

Emily Weber LeBrun, Weber’s sister, said she and her family were touched by the community support after her brother’s death.

“I’m just so privileged to know what kind of an impact he had on people every day,” she said.

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Although FHP hasn’t released more information about the crash, FHP Sgt. Tracy Hisler-Pace said investigators are working to find out what happened.

“It’s just so tragic,” she said. “The entire situation is being investigated, so I’m sure they’ll try and answer some of the questions [the family] has.”

Contact Kathryn Varn at kvarn@alligator.org.

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