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Crash victim dies in young man's arms

A teenage boy skateboarding with friends and a man ran to the two-car accident after hearing the crash.

A young woman died almost instantly Friday afternoon in a two-car crash at a busy intersection, taking her last breaths as a teenage good Samaritan held her in his arms.

Seventeen-year-old Matt Arnold was skateboarding with friends at the Hollybrook Plaza near Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and State Road 54 about 5:50 p.m. when he heard the smash of metal.

He looked in time to see a blue Dodge Avenger spin wildly into a dusty lot and smash, back end first, into a construction trailer, and he sprinted to the scene.

"I just did what I would do for anyone," the Wesley Chapel High School student said minutes after the wreck. "I wanted to help. I wanted to do what I could. You don't even think about it."

The lanky teen and another man raced across the parking lot to the wrecked cars, Arnold yelling for someone to call for help as he ran.

Inside the Avenger, Arnold found a young woman in the crushed passenger side. She looked close to his age, and she was badly hurt. Others tried to tend to the injured driver.

"I reached up, and I know I could feel a pulse," Arnold said. "I know she still had a little pulse."

Arnold said another man tried to tend to her, but the injuries were severe, and he could hear blood in the young woman's throat.

"I was just holding her, and we tried our best to do something," Arnold said.

And while he held on to her, her body still trapped in the wreckage, Arnold said, she died.

"It's wrong," he said as rescue crews worked to recover the body. "She had her whole life."

Highway patrol Trooper H. Glenny at the scene said it was too early to know what happened and said the victim's name would be withheld until her family could be notified. The names of the driver of the Avenger and the second vehicle, a white Toyota pickup truck, were not immediately available.

A preliminary investigation showed the Avenger was heading west on SR 54 and was turning into the far eastern entrance to the shopping plaza, which is anchored by a Publix supermarket and a Blockbuster video store. As the Avenger turned, it collided with the Toyota. The impact spun the Avenger and slammed it into the construction trailer.

Both drivers were airlifted to Tampa hospitals.

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