Teen Driver Dies after Family Drives Into Pond

Cheerleaders didn’t feel much like cheering Saturday but members of the River City Rockets team did so anyway for their late team mate.

The 14-year-old and her mother were both killed in a family accident this week. The young girl was trying to park the family GMC Yukon in an Orlando parking lot when the large SUV suddenly lurched forward and fell into a retention pond landing on its roof. Her mother was killed instantly, the girl after the accident. Three other family members got out alive.

“The driver didn’t stop or the vehicle’s brakes didn’t work,” said Trooper Jorge Dedlahoz at the time.

The 14-year-old had been on life support as well at an Orlando hospital but she never recovered. The ninth-grader at Darnell-Cookman Middle /Senior High is being remembered by friends as sweet and smart. The cheerleaders wore bright colored socks in her honor.

The 14-year old girl’s mother never made it out of the vehicle. Divers found her some time later. But the girl’s sister, who is 3-years-old, remains on life support. The mother’s fiancé and his teenage child managed to get out of the vehicle suffering minor injuries.

One of our firm’s members was at the cheerleading event and brought the memorial to our attention. Our sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of these women. Our prayers are with the little girl.

Many feel that Florida should increase the age for obtaining a driving permit from 15 years-old to 16. Thousands of teens are killed or injured in car accidents every year, so increasing the age at which teens can get a license would save many lives, according to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Nationally, the age teens can drive ranges from just over 14 in South Dakota, to 17 in New Jersey. Most states allow teens to drive unsupervised around the age of 16.

It is possible that an older teen driver might have been better prepared behind the wheel. A youngster, in a very large vehicle, might panic and confuse the brake with the accelerator pedal. A GMC Yukon is a very large car for a small person to try to learn to drive.

Some parents decide on their own that they will delay the time their teen starts driving because of their level of maturity. It is not a bad idea for teens to listen to their parents, because believe it or not, they probably know your abilities better than you do.

Meanwhile a candlelight vigil was held for the family members this week at the Jacksonville Landing.