16-year-old killed when car hit tree near Atlantic Coast High School

2 teens killed in separate accidents near Jacksonville high schools

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist , News4Jax.com Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Grief counselors were on campus at two Duval County high schools Friday as classmates mourn the loss of students killed in traffic crashes.

Derek George, 16, who attended Atlantic Coast High School, died Thursday night when his car slid off a road not far from the school and struck a tree, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Students said George was well-liked and played junior varsity football at the school. He had been leaving after a game when he crashed on R.G. Skinner Parkway, near Baymeadows Road. 

Some of his teammates have left their jerseys, notes and flowers at a memorial at the scene of the crash.

"He always had a smile on his face and was always putting smiles on others," said Trevor Ford, one of George's teammates. "He was always a loving kid. He had great friends. Everyone on the football team loved him and respected him."

Police said Derek was going north on Skinner Parkway just after 8 p.m. when his Nissan Maxima left the road and hit the tree. He died at the scene and two passengers were taken to a hospital with serious injuries.

"I went on social media, on Twitter, and found out the news and my mom was actually the one to tell me at first and I was stunned," Ford said. "I was eating dinner and I lost my appetite. It was very heartbreaking just knowing that a brother of mine that I played football with and was really close to passed away."

Police have not released a cause of the crash.

"Whoever was driving just lost control or that's what I'm hoping. I'm hoping there wasn't anything bad involved," Ford said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the George family with expenses. 

Hours earlier, 18-year-old Sandalwood High School student Denny Grahovic died in a multivehicle wreck at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and St. Johns Bluff Road. 

Duval County Public Schools issued a statement:

"The communities of Sandalwood High School, Atlantic Coast High School, and all Duval County Public Schools are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of two of its students due to auto accidents. To support the well-being of students and faculty, specially-trained school counselors and social workers will be onsite today at both high schools, and will provide continued support as needed."

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