PLANT CITY — Russell Marcotrigiano swallowed hard, recalling something a parent never wants to have to remember: the last memories of his child.
"This is tough," said Marcotrigiano, a Tampa police captain, his voice cracking.
They ate pizza together Sunday evening in their Plant City home.
His 17-year-old son, Nicholas — his boy so full of life, a loyal friend to his two brothers — got up to go sometime after 10 p.m.
"He was going to pick up (a friend), and he'd be back," Marcotrigiano said. But authorities arrived at the house about 4 a.m. Monday.
Nicholas Marcotrigiano's 1996 Ford Ranger collided with a 1999 Jeep Cherokee shortly after midnight Monday. The two vehicles were traveling side by side east on State Road 60.
After contact, the Ranger veered south and struck a tree. Nicholas died at the scene. The Cherokee went north, crashed through a wooden fence, overturned and slammed into a tree.
The driver of the Cherokee, 15-year-old Haley Weatherly, also died at the scene. Her passenger, 16-year-old Amelia Lee Gold remained in serious condition Tuesday at Tampa General Hospital.
Nicholas Marcotrigiano's passenger, 17-year-old Brandon Simonds, was in critical condition Tuesday at the same hospital, a spokesman said.
All the teens were friends at Bloomingdale High School. None was wearing a seat belt. The cause of the crash is under investigation, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Weatherly lived with her mother in Valrico. Relatives at her father's home in Punta Gorda said funeral arrangements had not yet been made.
Russell Marcotrigiano said a viewing is scheduled for Nicholas from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Serenity Meadows at 6919 Providence Road in Riverview. A service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the same place with the burial to follow.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, the public send donations in Nicholas' name to the Ronald McDonald House at All Children's Hospital.
"He was always a happy kid. He just enjoyed life," Russell Marcotrigiano said. Nicholas lived with his father, his twin brother, Dan, and his other brother, Christopher, who was 10 months younger than the twins. The three boys were like triplets, their father said.
He doesn't know what could have caused the crash. All he knows is that his son was on his way home.
"He wasn't far from the house."
Saundra Amrhein can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2441.