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Witnesses of crash that killed two teens on their way to homecoming are outraged and calling for change

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BRADENTON, FL (WWSB) - Neighbors and witnesses to Saturday's fatal crash on State Road 64 are outraged. They are demanding safety improvements to the intersection they say was deadly long before two teenagers lost their lives there on Saturday. 

Troopers say around 7:30pm on Saturday Chase Coyner, 17, was driving a Honda Accord west on State Road 64 in the left turn lane, attempting to turn onto Pope Road, when, not seeing the other vehicle, he turned left into the path of a Dodge Ram 2500 driven by Dallas Gross, 39, of Lake Placid, which was traveling east on State Road 64. The Ram hit the Accord on its right side.

Coyner and his passenger, 15-year-old Matthew Powers, were killed. Dallas Gross suffered minor injuries and his passenger, 12-year-old Ayla Gross, was critically injured.

When ABC7 visited the crash site on Monday, there was major congestion in the area and neighbors told us that cars trying to make the left turn onto Pope Road can't see oncoming traffic, especially if there's another car across from them trying to turn to Greyhawk Blvd.

Witnesses say that scenario is what happened when Coyner and Powers were killed on their way to homecoming.

Katie Pratt was on Pope Road Saturday night, waiting to turn right onto State Road 64, when the deadly crash happened right before her eyes.

"The truck hit the car, the car T-boned and basically stopped dead in its tracks and then the truck flipped about five or six times," Pratt said.

Coyner and Powers died in the collision. Dallas and Ayla Gross were both ejected from their truck.

"As the daughter was ejected [from the truck], the pole missed her by maybe 10 feet," explained Pratt.

Ayla's mother posted an update on Facebook saying the 12-year-old remains in critical condition with a fractured pelvis and collar bone, bruised lungs and small bleeds in her brain. Her mother said she is in and out of consciousness, but is now able to respond to questions.

"It has got to end here," Pratt exclaimed. "I'll tell you, from first hand experience, seeing these kids and seeing the aftermath of this awful, awful tragedy, it's just got to stop."

Pratt is enraged that nothing has been done to fix what many are calling a life threatening turn.

"I not only urge you guys, you citizens, me included, to get involved and to get Manatee County to get some lights put up on 64, I pretty much demand it," Pratt said. "This is absolutely ridiculous."

A classmate of the boys who were killed feels the same, activated by the loss to push for change.

"She's trying to get signatures to present to the Florida Department of Transportation to do something differently at that intersection," said Meghan Player's mom. 

The petition already has over 1,000 signatures with a captivating title, "How many people have to die?"

The Florida Department of Transportation said the white median at that location was installed to help with traffic flow. Staff said that in the year before it was installed, there were 19 crashes. In the six months since it's been there, that number reduced to five.

FDOT also plans to build a roundabout at the intersection within the next five years, but it's a solution neighbors are not happy about because they say they're not as effective as traffic lights. 

If you'd like to sign Player's petition, click here.

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Multi Media Journalist