18-year-old Dies in St. Augustine Collision

She was just 18-years old. A young woman from St. Augustine and another teenager were killed Sunday night when the truck they were riding in collided with an ambulance.

It all happened on U.S. 1 near The Avenues Mall. At about 8:20 p.m., the 18-year old woman was riding in the middle of the front seat in a friend’s Chevy Silverado. The former Bartram Trail High School student was not wearing her seat belt, probably because there is not a belt for three people in the front.

Suddenly their truck collided with an ambulance. Law enforcement on the scene was not sure who had the right of way.

The young woman was pronounced dead at Shands Jacksonville. The driver of the truck, a 19-year-old, was also pronounced dead at the hospital Monday night. The other front seat passenger, a 17-year-old from Jacksonville was in critical condition at Shands. The two passengers in the rear were in serious condition. The four others in the pickup truck were not wearing their seat belts either, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Our prayers go out to the families of the two young people killed. The 18-year-old had left high school in 2006 and was in school to become a nurse. Her Facebook and MySpace shows that this beautiful young woman was full of life and loved by many. Many people say they felt blessed to have known her.

And who was at fault for this auto accident in Florida? The ambulance crew reports they had already dropped their patient off and were stopped at a red light. When the arrow turned green the ambulance turned. If that’s the case, FHP says that the driver of the truck must have run a red light, putting him at fault.

Unfortunately, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Bill Leeper said that beer was found in the Silverado. A toxicology test will determine if the driver of the truck was drinking.

In Florida, there is Zero Tolerance for DUI in any driver under the age of 21 who has a blood alcohol level of .02% or more. Police can immediately suspend their license for six months, even for a first offense. A second offense will result in a one-year suspension. Refusal to submit to alcohol testing, even for a first offense, and you face an immediate suspension of your license for 12 months, and 18 months on a second offense.

Again we have no idea of the role alcohol played in this accident, but just a reminder to our young drivers – traffic crashes occur every 12 seconds in the U.S. and are the number one cause of death among young adults.

If you are between the age of 15 to 19, you are more likely to be killed in a car crash than any other way. Alcohol, distraction and speeding all play a part. It would be great if we didn’t have to repeat those statistics almost weekly, but unfortunately we do. Unfortunately for some young drivers, the death of a young person they know, or someone just like them, drives home the message more loudly and clearly than any statistics ever will.