PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. - A 17-year-old driver was killed in a crash Thursday night while swerving to avoid a dog in the road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Zane Tilton, of Palatka, was driving her pickup truck south in the 200 block of Stokes Landing Road at about 8:30 p.m. when a dog went into the road from the right side, state troopers said.
Tilton, who lived in the 350 block of Stokes Landing Road, swerved to the left and overcorrected, causing the truck to spin counter-clockwise and then overturn on the pavement "violently," according to an FHP report.
The front of the truck scraped a tree and then came to a stop off the road in a vacant, wooded lot, landing upside-down.
Tilton, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle, troopers said.
Landan Waldock, 15, and Levi Dunham, 10, who are from Palatka and were passengers in the vehicle, both suffered minor injuries and were taken to Putnam Community Medical Center.
Tilton's family members said she attended Palatka High School and was all ready to start her junior year. They said Waldock was her boyfriend and Dunham is her second-cousin.
"Very loving, sweet girl," said Jennifer Coleman, Tilton's cousin. "They went to the movies. They were on the way home from the movies, and the dog ran out in front of her, and they just lost control of the vehicle."
"You could not ask for a better daughter. She was my world," said Kim Tilton, Zane's mother.
FHP Lt. Bill Leeper said that when drivers face a situation similar to the one that caused this fatal crash, they should slow down and hit the animal instead of swerving.
"You may damage your vehicle, but you won't hurt yourself," Leeper said.
Animal control officers set out Friday to catch the dog that went out in front of the truck to prevent it from causing another accident.
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