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FHP: Speeding killed four teens in fiery Seminole crash

SEMINOLE — Excessive speed is what killed four teens in the horrific April 10 crash that left two high schools in mourning, the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed on Friday.

The 16-year-old driver, Joseph Ruzecki, was driving more than 70 mph in a 25 mph zone before the crash, according to the preliminary results of the crash report the FHP released Friday.

The teen driver did not have any alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the crash, the report said.

"It doesn't matter if you're a teenager, an adult or elderly," said FHP Sgt. Larry Kraus. "Speed is a problem regardless of age anytime you get into a traffic crash."

Ruzecki and four friends — Nathan Richardson, Keith MacCollom, LeShawn Smith and Corey Lepore — piled into a black Lexus and rushed to Ruzecki's house to beat an 11 p.m. curfew for unattended teen drivers, authorities said. They had been eating pizza and playing video games at MacCollom's house just three minutes away.

They were speeding west on 86th Avenue N, the report said, when they came upon a Chevrolet Lumina driven by 42-year-old Richard Allen Goltl. The Lumina ahead of them was slowing to turn left onto 141st Street N. The FHP said that Ruzecki tried to pass the slower vehicle on the left — and crossed into oncoming traffic.

The result: the two vehicles collided and both spun out of control.

The Lexus smashed into a pine tree and burst into flames. The impact ejected the engine — and four of the teens.

Ruzecki, Richardson, 15, MacCollom, 17, and Smith, 16, died.

The only survivor was Lepore, 17, who was thrown from the front passenger seat into a nearby yard. He was hospitalized with broken bones and a concussion.

No one will be cited or charged in the crash, the FHP said.

Goltl was not at fault, the FHP ruled. His blood-alcohol level that night was 0.049, below the 0.08 limit at which Florida law presumes a driver is impaired. Goltl showed no signs of impairment, the report said.

Ruzecki, Richardson and MacCollom attended Seminole High School. Smith attended Largo High School. The driver, Ruzecki, was the only one wearing his seat belt.

FHP: Speeding killed four teens in fiery Seminole crash 07/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 18, 2009 8:37am]
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