LAKE CITY, Fla. -- A crash late Monday night killed at least one teen and left several others injured.
The deadly crash occurred around 8:55 p.m. near the intersection of US 41 (SW Main Boulevard) and SW Malone Street.
An officer with the Lake City Police Department responded to the scene and found two vehicles were involved. The officer also found several juveniles laying in the roadway, according to a release from the Lake City Police Department.
Czarrha Howard-Mercado, 17, was found unconscious by officers, who immediately began CPR, the release detailed. Howard-Mercado was resuscitated and regained consciousness and transported by ambulance to the Lake City Medical Center to transfer her to Trauma One Air Ambulance. While enroute to the hospital, Czarra succumbed to injuries sustained in the crash and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Additionally, a 16-year-old male was transported by LifeFlight to UF Health in Gainesville. A17-year-old transported to Shands Lake Shore Hospital, but transferred to UF Health in Gainesville after discovering that he had a broken neck. Three additional passengers, all juveniles, were transported locally to Shands Lake Shore and Lake City Medical Center.
Witnesses at the scene claim a black 1991 Chevy pickup truck, driven by a 17-year-old male, was driving northbound on US 41 and entered the intersection of SW Malone Drive at the same time a green 2001 Ford truck, driven by a 16-year-old male, entered the same intersection driving westbound. The trucks collided, causing the green Ford truck to spin. Two juveniles in the bed of the black Chevy pickup truck were ejected from the truck in the crash.
Howard-Mercado, a passenger in the green Ford pickup truck, was ejected through the side window. Howard-Mercado was not wearing a seat belt at the time.
LCPD Chief Argatha Gilmore stated that what is known at this time is that one of the two vehicles ran a red light, and investigators are working to determine which one. Gilmore also added many of the juveniles were not wearing their seat belts.
"Investigation into the crash will continue over the next several days," said Chief Argatha Gilmore. "It is truly tragic that this type of crash occurred involving so many young children, and our traffic investigators are working diligently to uncover what exactly happened. In the meantime, our hearts and prayers go out to all involved and their families"
The Lake City Police Department is leading the investigation into the crash with the assistance of Florida Highway Patrol.
A thorough at-scene investigation was conducted and evidence was collected. The vehicles involved were towed for pending vehicle inspections. The intersection was shut down for nearly three hours before reopening.
Alcohol has not been eliminated as a possible factor in the crash. Blood samples were collected voluntarily from both drivers and submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis.
Students at Columbia High School held a prayer this morning at the school commons and have tweeted heartfelt thoughts and well wishes following the crash.
Columbia High School kicked off their homecoming week celebrations Monday. Today was slated to be "Great Gatsby Day" according to the school website, however numerous tweets discouraged students from participating following the crash.