SPRING HILL — Walking along the edge of Coronado Drive with her two friends and little brother just after dusk Wednesday, Brittany Tercero never saw the car approaching quickly from behind. She never heard it, either.
But Tercero did hear the scream from another friend approaching the group from the opposite direction: "Car!"
It was too late.
Before they could scoot away to safety, authorities said a 2006 Honda driven by Daniel J. Sirico, 23, of Jacksonville plowed into 12-year-old Jason A. Colon and 15-year-old Caitlin Denton. Colon died Thursday from his injuries and Denton was seriously injured.
Tercero said Colon had managed to push Denton out of the street, just seconds before the car hit them. Denton struck a mailbox in front of Shearon Teaters' home in the 13900 block of Coronado, while Colon took the brunt of the crash and landed in the front yard.
Witnesses said Denton seemed to have suffered leg injuries, but Colon was unresponsive and bleeding heavily from the nose, mouth and torso. Sirico, they said, was inconsolable.
"I felt terrible for him," Teaters said. "He was beside himself."
"I can't explain it," Tercero said Thursday. "My two best friends were hit by a car. … It was just horrible."
She and her friends were mourning the loss of her classmate and new neighbor — Colon had moved into a house a block away only a week ago. She spoke wistfully of watching him skateboard, playing volleyball in the front yard and just hanging out.
"We're gonna miss him," she said. "Everyone was just getting to know him."
The children were walking with the flow of traffic and Sirico did not see them, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The accident was not alcohol-related, the agency said.
Colon was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, while Denton was transported to Oak Hill Hospital with serious injuries. She was reportedly released Thursday.
No one answered the door at Colon's home in the 2100 block of Godfrey Avenue. But his next-door neighbor Christie Major, who has two school-age children, said she had heard the sobering news.
The previous evening, after learning about the accident, she ran all the way from her home to Coronado.
"My heart just goes out to his family," said Major, her face red and streaked with tears. "I couldn't imagine making that run and that being my child."
A number of attempts to reach Sirico and Denton on Thursday were unsuccessful.
News of Colon's death spread quickly among his friends and classmates at Powell Middle School on Thursday, with nearly a dozen of them gathering in the front yard of Tercero's house — a couple of blocks from the scene of the accident.
Over the years, residents in the neighborhood have braced themselves for this sort of tragic accident. Some blamed the narrow, winding, two-lane streets with no sidewalks that offer little buffer for pedestrians and bikers. Others blamed children for too often walking in the streets and ignoring the swiftly moving cars.
"It gets so frustrating," said Tercero's mother, Kathy Curci-Degaro, "Any mother would be worried. Where are these kids supposed to walk?"
Times reporter Kameel Stanley also contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 754-6120.