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Head-on collision leaves two teens dead, two families grieving

Steve Augello is the kind of dad who insisted his daughter call him whenever she left a place and again when she arrived.

He's the kind of dad who had the text messages "Where are you?" and "Call me when you get this message" saved as templates in his cell phone.

So on Monday night, Allie, 17, called to say she was leaving play practice at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School to head home. Steve knew the trip should have taken 15 to 18 minutes.

She never arrived. His call and text messages went unanswered. His wife came home about 45 minutes later, and together they set out on every parent's dreaded search.

It ended with the worst possible outcome.

First they saw the blue emergency vehicle lights on Hudson Avenue. Then they saw the roadblock. Steve asked a deputy if his daughter was there, and the deputy asked her age. Steve said 17, and the deputy asked him for identification.

"As soon as he said that," Steve said Tuesday, "I knew there was a problem."

His wife, Agnes, walked up moments later, and she overheard Steve say to the authorities, "What do I tell my wife?"

• • •

The knock came to Betsy Carrion's door about 10:30 that night. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper stood there with two young women behind him, crying.

At first Betsy thought one of them was Alyssa Dyer, her 19-year-old granddaughter. But she flipped on the light and saw they were Alyssa's friends, and reality washed slowly over her.

Betsy did a lot of the work raising Alyssa, whose mother died six years ago of multiple sclerosis. She did things she hadn't done as a parent — accompanied school field trips, helped with science fair projects, shopped for a homecoming dress. And she endured the difficulties when Alyssa dropped out of high school, hooked up with questionable friends and ran astray of the law.

But lately, there was reason to be hopeful. Alyssa seemed to settle down since getting together with her boyfriend six months ago.

"It just seemed like she was a little bit more level-headed and had a little bit more sense of responsibility," Betsy said.

• • •

The Highway Patrol says Alyssa Dyer was heading east on Hudson Avenue near Hays Road about 7:15 p.m. Monday when she inexplicably veered across the center line. She struck Allie — Alessandra Augello — head-on. They were both wearing their seat belts, but both died at the scene.

On Tuesday, a few miles apart, the two families grieved. They don't know each other.

The Augellos' home in Spring Hill had a steady stream of visitors, most of whom brought food, all of whom looked grief-stricken. Steve, a gentle but burly guy with tattoos on his arms and a thick gold cross around his neck, hugged them and cried and said, "I love you."

His son, Stephen Jr., 9 looks like his sister. A friend took him shopping for a suit to wear to Allie's funeral because he's outgrowing everything so fast.

There are pictures of the kids all over the house — on a table just inside the front door, hanging on the walls.

Betsy's condominium in Beacon Woods has similar photo displays. Her home was quieter Tuesday. She made the arrangements for Alyssa herself — a memorial service locally, followed by a burial back home in Connecticut next to her mother.

• • •

Here's a little bit about Allie:

She had a 3.8 GPA and wanted to attend Saint Leo University next year, majoring in journalism and minoring in photography.

She was set to play the part of the cop in Bishop McLaughlin's production of The Odd Couple, opening Friday.

Writing, she loved. Math, not so much.

She could turn on an uncanny English accent. The first week of school, she fooled one of the new teachers until the end of the period, when she turned it off and said, "Well, you have a nice day."

And here is Alyssa:

She followed her grandmother from Connecticut about a year and a half ago, hoping to make a new start. She still found trouble, picking up arrests this year on charges of petit theft and possession of a controlled substance.

She wanted to be a nurse because, with a sick mom, home health aides were always part of her world. She earned her nurse's aide certification because that seemed like a good place to start.

Her boyfriend had recently proposed, and they planned to go shopping for rings this week.

She was expecting a baby next May.

• • •

It turns out that Steve and Betsy work at the same Publix store, on Little Road in Hudson. He's in the deli; she's in the bakery.

Neither knew it until Tuesday.

It's just one of those things. Unexpected, unexplained.

Like the accident.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6245.

Funeral services

Alessandra Augello, 17

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Turner Funeral Home in Spring Hill. Mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Spring Hill.

Alyssa Dyer, 19

Information was not available Tuesday evening. Prevatt Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Head-on collision leaves two teens dead, two families grieving 11/11/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 9:14pm]
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