3 Immokalee teens killed in car crash
Football team played game in honor of ...
High school senior Miranda Ozuna has buried a friend or family member each of her four years in high school. When asked how many funerals she’s attended, she tried counting all of them in her head.
“Now I’ve got to attend three more,” she said.
Ozuna, who attends Beacon High School, grew up living on the same street as Jacob Garibay, 17, who was driving his Ford Mustang, with three of his closest friends in tow, Halloween night. Garibay and passengers Gerry Ruiz, 17, and Joseph “JoJo” Daguerre Jr., 17, all were killed in the crash.
"I always knew when it was Jacob driving down the street," she said. "His car made a noise so I knew it was him."
Friday morning candy covered in blood remained at the curve on the road where the Mustang hit a concrete culvert and flipped over, killing the teens. Only passenger Lamorris Hall, 16, survived.
Many Immokalee students heard the news before school began that three of their classmates had been killed in a late night wreck.
Parents read news alerts to their students. Students shared the news on the bus, or as they walked together to campus.
Then came the principal's announcement, before the daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance: Three classmates were dead.
"I've never heard the whole school so quiet," said Sophomore Dustin McClelland. "There were a lot of people crying. There were less than half the people in every class. Nobody wanted to say anything loud because they didn't want to be disrespectful.
McClelland didn't know the seniors who died, but the impact they had on the student body as a whole, on the teachers, was painfully clear, he said.
"A lot of the teachers were crying too. They had this big teacher meeting first period to talk about it. Almost every class had a substitute teacher," McClelland said.
The bells were late.
There was a moment of silence during the first three periods.
Parents and students texted one another throughout the day. Many parents just took their student home from school.
The Homecoming skits were canceled, despite the game tonight. No one wanted to laugh.
The Migrant Center was opened for grief counseling. It looked full much of the day, students said.
At lunch, the Fellow Christian Athletes club organized a prayer circle around the flagpole outside.
"Nobody said anything," said Alma Mejia, a freshman. "They just prayed. Even inside it was complete silence. Not a lot of stuff like that has happened before."
Lamorris Hall was listed in fair condition about 1 p.m. at Lee Memorial, said hospital spokeswoman Pat Dolce. His family has declined an interview at this time.
The Immokalee football team will play tonight's game in honor of three classmates who were killed in a horrific overnight car crash.
The team held a players’ meeting this morning, said coach Rich Dombroski, to discuss playing tonight’s district championship game at home.
Dombroski said senior Cholin Deiudonne stood up and spoke about wrestling with Geraldo Ruiz, one of the victims in the crash.
“Everyone on the team said they want to play to honor the kids,” Dombroski said.
The Indians play Lely for the Class 5A-District 15 title with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
Gerardo Ruiz, who was killed in the crash, was a member of the Immokalee High School wrestling team. He advanced to the state tournament last year.
Immokalee High School students are out of school this afternoon due to a previously scheduled early release day. Students say they were offered access to grief counselors this morning.
Just before 11 p.m. on Halloween, four teenage boys from Immokalee were cruising along in a Ford Mustang.
Then the car swerved off the road, hit a culvert and landed, overturned, on its roof. Three of the four boys were killed. One survived and is being treated at Lee Memorial for serious injuries suffered in the one-vehicle rollover crash.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers didn't disclose what type of injuries Lamorris Hall, 16, the youngest of the teens, is being treated for. He was one of two passengers wearing his seatbelt. Hall was listed in fair condition about 1 p.m. at Lee Memorial, said hospital spokeswoman Pat Dolce. His family has declined an interview at this time.
The other boy who was wearing his seatbelt was Joseph Daguerre Jr., 17, who died in the accident.
The driver, Jacob Garibay, 17, was not wearing his seatbelt; he was killed in the crash.
Another passenger, Gerardo Ruiz, 17, was not wearing his seatbelt and died in the collision, according to a FHP report.
Authorities said the cause of the crash is pending a blood alcohol content analysis of the driver.
All of the teens were students at Immokalee High School, a campus ravaged by too many student deaths in the past few years; where many students have "funeral attire" -- clothes they set aside to wear when a friend is buried.
Since May 2011, 10 students have died, then-Principal Mary Murray told the Daily News in March.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Murray, an education veteran of 20 years.
There has been no common thread to the deaths — four students died in car crashes, two brothers drowned, a young couple was killed in a murder-suicide and one Special Olympics athlete collapsed during a game and died of heart problems. Part of the difficulty for administrators is that there is no trend they can identify and work toward correcting.
“It’s not as easy as if it were all drugs or all gang violence,” Murray said. “It’s a potpourri of things.”
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