Friday, January 19, 2018
Public safety

Classes resume at Steinbrenner High as students grieve loss of beloved senior

LUTZ — Students snapped images of a rainbow early Monday over Steinbrenner High School as classes resumed in the wake of the weekend death of a beloved classmate.

Many tweeted their pics with the hashtag #RIPFrank after a prayer outside the school. Some said the rainbow was a sign from the heavens, a gift from their departed friend.

"Even if you don't know them, offer a shoulder to cry on or a person to talk to," student Bradley Walters tweeted Monday morning. "It's time we come together as a family."

Frank Vasquez, 17, died Sunday after a driver slammed into and flipped his parked SUV early Saturday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. His girlfriend and passenger, Kaylee E. Baer, 16, of Lutz, remained in intensive care Monday morning at St. Joseph's Hospital, officials said.

The driver who hit them, Matthew J. West, 23, whom authorities say initially fled the scene, turned himself in at a Pasco County jail Saturday. The case is under investigation and no charges have been filed, troopers said.

Vasquez, of Lutz, and Baer had returned from a Keith Urban concert at the Florida State Fairgrounds when West hit Vasquez's parked SUV at a dead end on Sunlake Drive, north of County Line Road, about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, crash investigators said.

Friends and teachers held a vigil at Steinbrenner High School's stadium Sunday night. Many continued their tributes and aired their grief on social media.

"We have our crisis team and grief counselors available for anybody who needs them," said Jill Schroeder, an assistant to principal Kelly King. "It hits very close to home. Obviously, they're very upset, but I think they're dealing with it as best as they can."

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