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Former Wesley Chapel High student killed in Va. crash

Brad Sowers, center, is shown with his mom, Audrey Daley, and stepfather, James Daley.

Special to the Times

Brad Sowers, center, is shown with his mom, Audrey Daley, and stepfather, James Daley.

A former Wesley Chapel High School student died Sunday morning in a car accident while visiting family in Virginia, according to the Virginia State Police.

William "Brad" Sowers, 19, apparently lost control of his 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt and hit a tree on a desolate stretch of a Virginia state road around 2:25 a.m. He was transported to a local hospital, where he died a few hours later.

Three other teens in the car were also injured in the accident, which happened about 20 miles east of Roanoke.

Authorities did not release the teens' names or the extent of their injuries Monday afternoon.

Sowers, who withdrew from Wesley Chapel High near the end of this school year, is at least the fourth student associated with Wesley Chapel High to perish in a car wreck in a year.

He lived just a few blocks from where senior Matthew Laidley died when a classmate's Isuzu Trooper rolled over in August.

Tabatha Pastrana and friend Kristin Gaskin were killed in May when Tabatha's car flipped on Interstate 75.

Sowers struggled in high school, his family said. He aced tests but didn't have the patience for homework. He scored in the top 10 percent of his school on the FCAT, but found class boring.

He wanted to get his GED and then go to Pasco-Hernando Community College and become a "cool art teacher" so he could help other students who struggled in school.

Sowers was outgoing, funny and affectionate with his younger siblings. His mom thought he would be the perfect teacher.

"Kids would like him," said Audrey Daley, 44. "They would want to come to school to be in his class."

Sowers lived in the now and was famous among his family for his spur of the moment decisions, including his announcement Friday that he was heading to Altavista, Va..

Sowers and his four siblings moved with their parents to Wesley Chapel four years ago from Altavista. Sowers tried to get up to Virginia at least once a year to visit his dad, Kenneth "Steve" Sowers, 48, grandparents and old friends.

But there wasn't much to do in the small town, according to his family.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened up about a year ago. Applebee's is a popular hangout.

"All you could do is stay at home or drive around," said his sister, Jennifer Sowers, 23.

Sowers and his friends were heading to a McDonald's drive-through Sunday morning when the accident occurred, his parents said.

The crash is still under investigation.

"Alcohol was a factor in the accident, along with speed," said Sgt. Michael Bailey of the Virginia State Police.

Bailey could not say whether Sowers had been drinking or if there were open containers found in the car, since the case was still open.

Sowers was wearing a seat belt.

Tuesday, Sowers' family prepared to head up to Virginia for his funeral.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at or (352) 521-6518.

>>Saying goodbye

Service is Sunday

A service will be held Sunday at First Baptist Church in Wesley Chapel, although a time has not been set.

Former Wesley Chapel High student killed in Va. crash 06/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 9:20am]
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