BROOKSVILLE — Andrew Altringer was an outgoing high school honors student who was already planning for his future.
But Thursday night, when his 2008 Mazda veered off a dark country road in northwest Hernando County and struck and injured a 22-year-old pedestrian, he did not stop or call for help, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Instead, he sped north on U.S. 19.
Thirty miles and two counties later, the 18-year-old from Brooksville blew past deputies running radar just over the Levy County line. They pulled in behind him and hit their lights, and Altringer eventually slowed onto the median.
"The deputy's left foot hadn't even hit the ground," Capt. Evan Sullivan said Friday, when he heard a loud sound from inside the Mazda. Approaching the car, he found Altringer bleeding from a self-inflicted rifle shot.
Altringer was taken to Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center in Crystal River, where he was pronounced dead.
On Friday evening, the pedestrian, Alicia Anderson of Lynn, Mass., was released from Tampa General Hospital after tests showed no internal bleeding, said her father, Marc Anderson.
As the Highway Patrol was piecing together the last night of Altringer's life, his high school principal, teachers and friends were trying to comprehend what happened to a popular young man known for his leadership.
"It's one of those tragedies that's so hard to understand," said Dennis McGeehan, the principal at Central High School.
Alicia Anderson's father, 46-year-old Marc Anderson of Brooksville, said Alicia and her 22-month-old son, Angel, were visiting from the Boston area for her father's birthday.
He said she was taking a walk Thursday night when she was hit just a block from her father's house. She managed to get to a neighbor's to call him.
"All of a sudden she had called me," Marc Anderson said, "called my phone and told me that she was bleeding."
Blood was gushing from the back of her head. But doctors at Tampa General found no disabling injuries.
Marc Anderson said his daughter was released Friday evening but could hardly walk because of the bruises and scrapes.
He knew little about the crash on Friday evening, having spent nearly a day at the hospital. But he said another daughter goes to the same school as Altringer.
"I would just wonder why he didn't stop," said Anderson, a Christian who prayed for his daughter all night. "God was going to forgive him for what he's done. I would have forgave him."
Kyle Case, 17, of Brooksville, a classmate, was a passenger in the car at the time of the accident but was not in the car when Altringer was stopped outside of Inglis, the Highway Patrol said.
Case lives on Ester Drive, a short distance from the accident scene. He declined to talk to a reporter Friday.
McGeehan said Altringer was an honors student, secretary of the Distributive Education Clubs of America program and a member of the school's Naval Junior ROTC program.
A senior, he had no history of disciplinary problems at the school. "He was a nice young man, very well liked around school," McGeehan said.
Altringer also was a member of the Florida Army National Guard Military Police 690th Unit. Altringer's path on Thursday night took him right past the unit's home base at the Crystal River National Guard Armory on U.S. 19.
A spokesman for the National Guard said Friday that Altringer went through basic training in the summer and was scheduled to attend specialized military police training this summer.
The unit is scheduled to be redeployed to Afghanistan in 2010, and Altringer presumably would have gone with it, said Jon Myatt of the Florida Department of Military Affairs.
"This is a sad event for us, his National Guard family," Myatt said.
Myatt said that the rifle Altringer used to kill himself was not military issue. He noted that weapons are issued only during operations and are returned at the end of exercises.
Late Friday, fellow Distributive Education Club members met at the Brooksville home of teacher Grace Gordon.
"He was such an outgoing guy," said Michelle Venezia, 17. "Andrew was someone you could always count on, no matter what."
Teacher Gino Ortiz said, "He had vision. You don't find a lot of kids with that kind of drive."
Times staff writer Joel Anderson and researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.