SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Three people are dead after an accident on the John Ringling Causeway Bridge overnight.
Sarasota Police say just after midnight, a car driving westbound over the bridge in the area of Bird Key crashed. Brothers Oscar Flores, 19, and Daniel Flores, 17, were killed, as was 15-year-old Isabella Paoletta.
A group of high school students placed flowers where the crash took place setting up a makeshift memorial. All of them calling this accident tragic. “One of them was 15. They didn’t deserve that. They were great people and they were going to do great things and they passed away. It’s going to hurt us all deeply and we’re all going to remember them and love them,” said high school student James Crain.
Sebastion Ramirez knew Paoletta, saying, “Everytime I see her around school, even in elementary school she was humble, she was a sweet loving, soft-hearted person.”
Police say the driver of the car lost control, striking the sidewall of the bridge and a tree. The car burst into flames. Paoletta was thrown from the vehicle while Oscar and Daniel Flores were inside the car.
“Our traffic unit officers have been assigned to this crash and they are working it and they are working to determine if speed was a factor, if alcohol was a factor or if drugs were a factor,” said Genevieve Judge, Spokesperson for the Sarasota Police Department.
For one Sarasota High School student, although his friend is gone, he hopes this accident serves as a teachable moment for those mourning the deaths of kids who were so young. “I don’t want to see this happen to any other of my friends. Hopefully it shows a lot of the youth in Sarasota how serious driving is and that we all need to stay safe.”
The causeway was closed in both directions for several hours but has since re-opened. However, officers remain in the area investigating and drivers are asked to use caution.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Anyone with any information, videos or photos related to this crash should call the Sarasota Police Department at 941-364-7370.