Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trying to Save Student Body Nease Junior's Death Intensifies Speeding Crackdown

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trying to Save Student Body Nease Junior's Death Intensifies Speeding Crackdown

Article excerpt

A 16-year-old Fruit Cove girl was critically injured in an Oct.

12 accident on Race Track Road that killed a friend at the

scene.

But in the wake of the accident that killed Nease High School

junior Erica O'Donoughue and left fellow junior Sarah Stewart

hospitalized, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office has taken

steps to slow down Nease students as they drive to school.

"We have been running some radar in the area to reinforce the

need to hold the speed down," said Major Frank Mathis. "We have

been trying to do it all along and, while this accident was a

catalyst to stepped-up measures, we had not abandoned traffic

control in the area. This did spur on some additional

enforcement."

Stewart was driving on the narrow two-lane road in Fruit Cove

headed to school at 7:22 a.m. when she lost control of her 1973

Volkswagen Beetle and hit a large dump truck. Mathis said the

initial investigation shows the car was traveling too fast for

conditions when the right wheels dipped off the shoulder and the

driver over-corrected, crashing just west of Russell Sampson

Road.

"As she rounded the curve, she lost control, then went onto the

right shoulder, then she over-corrected," said St. Johns County

Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Kelshaw. "It flipped on its

side with the passenger side down on the ground, then continued

on into the rock hauler."

The accident scene was marked with wooden crosses and bouquets

Friday, and O'Donoughue's funeral was held a few miles away at

San Juan del Rio Catholic Church. A set of swim goggles and two

swim caps were hung off the largest cross, because both girls

were on the Nease swim team. Numerous poems and notes are

attached, including one that said "God picks the prettiest

flowers first."

Only family and friends were allowed at the funeral. But Nease

Principal Bill Mignon said the 2 1/2-hour service was inspiring,

with O'Donoughue's family remembering her before a packed crowd

of students, teachers and friends.

"I was impressed with the strength of the family. They all

spoke and it was very moving," Mignon said. …

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