Friends mourn 4 teens killed in Seminole crash
[Suzanne Charneski hugs her daughter Courtney Charneski, 14, a ninth-grader at Seminole High, while grieving Sunday afternoon at the scene of the car accident. Dirk Shadd | Times]
Four teens died in a fiery crash in Seminole last Friday (April 10), and tampabay.com readers have mourned their loss in story comments and on It's Your Times. Readers have posted hundreds of comments since tampabay.com published the first report of the crash.
The sentiments have honored good friends, blamed the drivers involved, even criticized the parents for allowing the teen to drive a Lexus late at night. The coverage prompted others to suggest Florida raise the minimum driving age.
The crash: Five high school students were driving on 86th Avenue N when they collided with another car at 141st Way at about 11:15 p.m. Speed was a factor, officials said. FHP said the accident took place when Scott Ruzecki attempted to pass on the left as Richard Goltl turned left onto 141st Way. After the collision, Ruzicki's vehicle hit a tree and burst into flames.
Killed were Ruzecki, of Seminole; Keith MacCollom, 17, of Seminole; and Nathan S. Richardson, 15, of Pinellas Park, and LaShawn Allan Smith, 16, of Largo. Corey Kenneth LePore, 17, of Seminole, was the lone survivor.
The reaction: On It's Your Times, Diane Nicola of St. Petersburg says Florida should raise the minimum driving age to 18. "I have yet to hear of a crash involving teenagers where an authorized adult was supervising the driving of a restricted driver," she writes.
Melissa from Tallahassee says: "You all need to slow down! Make the speed limit 35. Someone dies every day. The extra 30 seconds worth someone's life? Worth your life?"
Mike from Tampa writes: "Parents keep giving your children fast cars and this is what happens."
Angie from Largo wanted to avoid blaming anyone: "It dosen't matter whose fault it was anymore. Those angels are gone now and all we can do is support! Rest in peace, little Angels."
Kari from Seminole says: "I had the privilege of knowing four of these kids. My heart goes out to their families. They are loved by all of us! Corey..... you will be OK."