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Two thrown from car in accident

A high school student and a 22-year-old were injured when their car went out of control after hitting a minivan, authorities say.

A 17-year-old high school student was critically injured when the car he was riding in spun wildly after crashing into a Ford minivan early Sunday morning.

Cody R. Wengert of New Port Richey was ejected from the Honda CRX driven by Edward J. Wagoner of Palm Harbor, who also was ejected from the vehicle. Neither was wearing a seat belt, according to Clearwater police.

Wengert and Wagoner were taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg by helicopter after the 12:07 a.m. accident. Wagoner, who turned 22 on Sunday, was listed in stable condition Sunday night. Wengert, who suffered head injuries, was listed in critical condition.

"If there is anything that can be taken from this, it's if he had a seat belt on, maybe things wouldn't be this way," said Wengert's mother, Karen. "I guarantee all of his friends who saw him (in the hospital) in this condition will think twice before they get into a car without a seat belt. It is just so heartbreaking."

According to Clearwater police, Wagoner and Wengert were heading east on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard near Duncan Avenue when Wagoner, the driver, veered to the westbound lane. As Wagoner tried to return to the eastbound lane, he lost control of the car and collided with the minivan, driven by Fatima Downey of Palm Harbor, causing the Honda CRX to "spin violently," said Wayne Shelor, Clearwater police spokesman.

Downey was not injured in the accident.

Police are unsure what caused Wagoner to veer into the westbound lane. The investigation is ongoing, Shelor said.

Wagoner lived at the Fifth Season apartments, 2350 Cypress Pond Road, where Wengert recently had lived with his father.

Karen Wengert said her son, who had been a student at Tarpon Springs High School, moved about a week ago to New Port Richey and was in the process of changing schools.