Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill woman killed in Orlando hit-and-run remembered for her humor, smile

Nicole Brennan, 20, of Spring Hill “really cared about everyone,” a former teacher said.

Nicole Brennan, 20, of Spring Hill “really cared about everyone,” a former teacher said.

SPRING HILL — People couldn't help but be drawn to 20-year-old Nicole Marie Brennan.

A free spirit with a healthy sense of humor and a big, inviting smile, she accepted easily, judged little and genuinely wanted to improve the lives around her.

"She loved you for you," said her mother, Monika Brennan. "She always tried to make people feel better about themselves."

And that's one of the things family and friends will miss most.

Brennan, a 2012 graduate of Nature Coast Technical High School, was killed early Sunday after being struck by two hit-and-run drivers in Orlando, where she was working on an associate's degree.

The crash happened shortly after 1:30 a.m. on State Road 50 on the east side of Orlando, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Troopers said Brennan of Spring Hill had just stepped from her vehicle after being involved in a two-car crash and was standing on the solid white line dividing the left-turn lane and the left travel lane of eastbound SR 50. A pickup driven by James Robert Alpaugh of Titusville struck her. An unidentified vehicle, believed to be a red minivan, then hit her and dragged her into the intersection.

Alpaugh returned about 5 a.m. after initially driving away and was arrested on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash. Troopers on Monday were still looking for the driver of the second vehicle.

In the meantime, friends and family members struggled with how such a sudden and senseless tragedy could happen to such a beautiful person. A candlelight vigil was organized for Monday night in her honor at Nature Coast, where she was remembered as a popular student.

Brennan competed in track and field and was a four-year starter and an all-county forward for the Nature Coast soccer team.

"She was a very, very hard worker when it came to soccer," said her coach, Lisa Masserio. "She was extremely dedicated to the team."

Masserio, who helped organize the vigil, said she received numerous phone calls from former players after news broke about Brennan's death.

"We're all having a hard time making sense of the whole thing," she said. "She was just a very beautiful person."

Ian Wald, who teaches digital video production at Nature Coast, said Brennan was one of his favorite students. She came in to visit him about six months ago, picking up a video she had made for her mother, he said.

"She just really cared about everyone," Wald said.

Brennan was finishing up her associate's degree at Valencia College in Orlando and would have graduated at the end of the summer, according to school officials. Her mother said Brennan was planning to study business at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Monika Brennan said her daughter could find humor in everything.

That's part of what drew her to becoming the mascot at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics and why she loved recording goofy videos with her brother, Lucas Brennan, 23.

"She loved to clown around," her mom said.

Spring Hill woman killed in Orlando hit-and-run remembered for her humor, smile 07/21/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2014 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gay, black leaders speak about finding their place

    Relationships

    When Lillian Dunlap moved to Florida at age 52 in 1999 she could finally breathe. The journalism professor from the University of Missouri and the University of Indiana hadn't been able live openly as a gay woman until then. She had considered coming out before but never did.

    Terri Lipsey Scott (standing) welcomed panelists Bob Devin Jones, Desmond Clark, Lillian Dunlap, Trevor Pettiford and Sheree Greer. Moderator Nadine Smith not pictured.
  2. Bar review: Les Partners Lounge goes old-school in Clearwater

    Bars & Spirits

    There are some local places that I'm shocked aren't more well known, and I think that's the result of a general aversion to stepping out of one's comfort zone. I make regular concerted efforts to step outside of mine, which often leads me to strange and rewarding drinking establishments.

    Les Partners Lounge is an old-school, smoker-friendly cocktail lounge and live music venue tucked away in a nondescript shopping plaza in Island Estates.
  3. Local craft beer of the week: Plongeur a L'eponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. has a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to wild ale brewing, utilizing an open brewing approach involving uncovered fermenters in order to brew beer with local ambient microbes, reminiscent in some ways to the fermentation techniques used by rustic farmhouse breweries in Belgium …

     Plongeur a?€š€™L?ˆš??ponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, 6/23/17  Electric Chair Sour Shandy, Angry Chair Brewing, 6/30/17   Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Motorworks Brewing 7/7/17
  4. No tapes: Trump says he didn't record meetings with Comey

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday he "did not make" and doesn't have any recordings of his private conversations with ousted FBI Director James Comey, speaking up on Twitter after a month-long guessing game that began with him delivering an ominous warning and ended with his administration ensnared …

    President Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]