Friends and classmates of Jenna Marie Moran spent Thursday grieving the shocking news that the 16-year-old Central High School junior was no longer with them.
Jenna was seriously injured on Wednesday afternoon when her car was struck head-on by a pickup as she headed from school to her home in Weeki Wachee. She died Thursday morning.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Jenna's 1992 Nissan Maxima was westbound on Hexam Road when an eastbound 2007 Mitsubishi pickup driven by William Curt Brooks, 37, crossed the center line into her path. The crash caused Brooks' vehicle to overturn twice.
The FHP said both victims were flown to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa where Brooks remained in serious condition Thursday evening. FHP said both drivers were wearing seat belts. There were no passengers in either vehicle.
Central High principal Dennis McGeehan said that the mood throughout the school Thursday was somber and that school district crisis teams were on hand throughout the day to help friends and teachers deal with their grief.
"Jenna's classmates were very touched by this," McGeehan said. "She was popular and very active on campus."
McGeehan said he was alerted by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office Wednesday that the school's parking lot would be needed as a landing zone for rescue helicopters and that the crash involved a student at this school.
"We knew it was bad, but we didn't know how bad it was going to end up," McGeehan said.
Guidance counselor Jackie Major described the teen as having a positive personality.
"She was outgoing, a real fun person who liked to see people laugh," Major recalled.
Major cited as an example Jenna's joke to her that she was trying to eat more Spanish food so that she would be able speak Spanish more fluently.
Tracy Anthony, a former Central High cheerleading coach who now coaches at Springstead High School, said Jenna spent much of last year on Central's junior varsity cheerleading squad but chose not to return this year so she could concentrate more on her academics.
"She was talented and worked real hard at her routines," Anthony said. "She was an inspiration to a lot of girls."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 848-1435.