Tragedy struck early Friday morning when two Florida siblings, Jorge Lara, 18, and 15-year-old Melanie Lara, were killed in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 27 while driving to school, according to The Ledger.
On October 28, Jorge was traveling in a Jeep Liberty at around 6:20 a.m., heading to Frostproof Middle-Senior High School, when he attempted to turn off Princeton Avenue but was struck by a white Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in the southbound lanes.
The U.S. Hwy 27 southbound lanes were closed for five hours while an investigation into the fatal crash ensued.
Investigators concluded that when Jorge stopped at a stop sign, he did not see the oncoming vehicle, which was carrying three passengers — Jose Vazquez-Rivera, 23, of Bartow; and Francisco Herrera and Luis Lazos-Gomez, both of Wahneta — before pulling out and turning into its path.
It was uncovered that “speed, impairment or distractions” did not play a role in the two-vehicle crash on U.S 27.
When emergency responders arrived at the scene, the Frostproof siblings were pronounced dead at the scene while the two men in the other vehicle were transported to Winter Haven Hospital and the third was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
All occupants of both vehicles were wearing seatbelts during the time of the crash, police say.
The principal, Kyle Windham, at Frostproof Middle-Senior High School said, “These two students were the epitome of character, honesty, and integrity that we hope all of our students strive to be. They were well-behaved and were a joy to have as students.”
“They were polite, caring and very bright. The news of their passing has been devastating for our school community as well as all who knew them. They will be greatly missed by their school family as well as all of those who love them. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family members.”
A school spokesperson, Jason Geary, later released the following statement.
“We are heartbroken at the tragic news that two of our Frostproof Middle-Senior High students, Jorge and Melanie Lara, were fatally injured in a crash this morning. They were polite, caring and very bright. The news of their passing has been devastating for our school community as well as all who knew them.”
Staff and students at Frostproof Middle-Senior High School were devastated by the sudden death of the brother and sister.
Mayor Rodney Cannon said, “Everyone seemed to be affected deeply. Some were at a loss for words and some were hysterical. Losing one student is bad enough, but losing both has really shaken the school – both faculty and students.”
According to the Fox 13 News, a crisis team was on campus all day Friday to offer counseling to teachers and students who needed it.
Bernie Keller, who is Jorge’s best friend, stated that the Frostproof crash would be a day he will never forget.
In a Facebook post, Keller wrote, “He was a great kid and I hope he rests in peace. He was always funny; he was the person you could always go to when you are down.”
A classmate, Jonathon Levi Hatchett, wrote, “Even though we weren’t that close I still considered you my boy. Seeing you every morning getting on the bus and watching you hug your mom goodbye seems just like yesterday. Prayers go out for your family, it’s such a tragedy. To think, I just saw you yesterday at McDonald’s.”
In a Facebook post, journalist Vanessa Ruffes wrote, “We’ve reported on some pretty horrible wrecks this week but for some reason, this one is just tearing me up inside. Not necessarily sadder than the other crashes we’ve seen in the past few days – they’re all tragedies. I just don’t think I can take hearing about another one of these right now. Please. Drive safely this weekend. Your friends and family want to see you again.”
[Featured Image by William Funk/iStock]