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Brooksville football player one of two teen cyclists killed in collisions

Scott Avery, 17, of Brooksville was hit late Saturday while on Powell Road.

Scott Avery, 17, of Brooksville was hit late Saturday while on Powell Road.

BROOKSVILLE — The outpouring of emotion was swift and sincere, with the friends and teammates of Scott Avery reaching out for an online sanctuary to reveal their raw grief.

"I still can't believe you're gone. Nothing will be the same without you," wrote one girl.

"I wish I could go back and be there but you will always be in my heart," wrote another friend.

"It kills me to know that your dreams won't be (fulfilled)," wrote another.

Within hours, more than 25 people had left similar tributes on the colorful MySpace page. The tragic news had apparently traveled fast.

Avery, a 17-year-old student at Nature Coast Technical High, was one of two teenage boys riding bicycles who were struck by vehicles and killed in separate accidents Saturday night.

The accidents happened about an hour apart, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The first one happened about 9 p.m. on Cedar Lane, north of State Road 50. The other one came about 10 p.m. on Powell Road.

In the second, Avery, of Brooksville, was riding east on Powell Road when his bicycle was struck from behind by a two-door 1997 Saturn. The driver of the Saturn fled the scene, but was later identified by the FHP as Leo Salvato, 36, of Spring Hill.

Salvato was found later and will face charges, FHP spokesman Steve Gaskins said Sunday.

Salvato has had several run-ins with the law. He has been arrested at least eight times in Hernando on charges of battery, criminal mischief, knowingly driving with a suspended license and driving while under the influence.

In the first collision, Justin White, 17, address unavailable, was struck by a 1998 Ford pickup truck while riding north on Cedar Lane. Timothy D. Price, 45, of Brooksville was passing another car when he hit the teen, according to the FHP.

White's bike had no lights, Gaskins said. The teen was taken to Brooksville Regional Hospital, where he died.

Attempts to reach White's family members were not immediately successful Sunday.

Meanwhile, a number of Avery's family members, friends and teammates were expected to gather Sunday evening at Nature Coast's football stadium for a hastily scheduled memorial service. The teen's mother, through a family friend, declined to comment when reached at home Sunday afternoon.

But on Avery's MySpace page, friends openly mourned for the teen who nicknamed himself "Cool Killa #10," a playful ode to his football skills and jersey number.

Through a number of pictures and comments on his personal page, friends painted a picture of a boy who loved sports, hip-hop music and making others laugh.

"You have such a good heart," wrote one girl. "Share it with everyone up there for me."

Times staff photographer Will Vragovic contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 754-6120.

Brooksville football player one of two teen cyclists killed in collisions 06/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:45pm]
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