HUDSON — Justin Foster drove his pickup truck south on Chicago Avenue at about 2:10 p.m. Thursday. Fivay High School had just let out for the day. He said he slowed as a girl looking down at her cellphone crossed into the road. A white Suzuki SUV approached in the other lane.
"And all of a sudden," said Foster, 17, "I see her come flying at me."
The SUV struck 16-year-old Ocean-Leigh McKenzie Marshall, a sophomore at Fivay, hurling her into the path of Foster's truck, the Florida Highway Patrol said. She glanced off the front and fell to the ground.
Foster mashed his brakes as the girl fell below his front bumper. He called his father, panicking.
"She just came out of nowhere. She's underneath my truck, dad! She's underneath my truck!"
Foster would later discover that he hit the brakes just in time to stop the truck from rolling over the girl — so close that rescue workers had to cut her blond hair from under the front tire to load her into an ambulance.
Emergency vehicles clogged the stretch of Chicago Avenue at the intersection of Chris Street just north of campus. Students clustered nearby, snapping photos on their cellphones while Ocean was loaded on a stretcher and into an ambulance with a blanket over her gray sweater and jeans, her head laid back over a neck brace, eyes closed.
The ambulance took her to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, where she was listed in serious but stable condition late Thursday.
The FHP report lists June A. Henson, 51, as the SUV's driver. Troopers were still investigating the crash late Thursday. No charges were filed.
Alex Orlando can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.