Vigil held for teen killed in Mandarin Road crash
Father of 14-year-old says crash was 'avoidable accident'
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you drive down Mandarin Road, you'll see that sprinkled in among all the overhanging oaks are memorials to dead teenagers.
There are four in roughly a mile span near the 12800 block, the most recent at the base of an oak tree, where 14-year-old Garrett Schaub (pictured below) was killed early Sunday morning.
"It's been very, very devastating. It's just been devastating," said Larry Schaub, Garrett's father. "It was an avoidable accident and all we can do is take it day by day."
Schaub said his son apparently snuck out early Sunday morning and met up with friends.
Police said their car was heading north in the 12800 block of Mandarin Road at a high speed and failed to negotiate a right hand curve in the roadway. The car left the roadway and the front end struck a large oak tree.
Garrett was killed on the road that drew the family to Mandarin.
"We moved to this area of Mandarin because of the road," Schaub said. "And Mandarin Road is one of the roads I never thought I would ever get tired of driving down. I'm one of those drivers that takes it at 30 or 35 (mph) because it's beautiful. The way the sun takes it all in through the trees, it's a beautiful road, but I can't drive it now."
The memorial at the tree's base was flooded with well-wishers all day Monday.
"He was a really funny guy, very strong, made anyone smile, I guess," friend Sydney McDonald said.
"It's a huge tragedy," said Jessica Olson, who went to school with Garrett. "You think of it, look at it one way and you think, 'Wow, he's really gone.'"
The crash is the latest in countless accidents Don Chandler has seen over the years. His mailbox and a few others were taken out in the crash.
"There's two stretches on either side of the curve that are straightaways. That's what I assume it is," Chandler said. "We've had cars go off, upside down in ditches. And they put the blinking lights out there and that helps some."
As far as the three other teens in the car, one had minor injuries, one is in critical condition, and the driver, 17-year-old Brandon Ramdass, is in fair condition.
Police said speed and alcohol appear to be factors in the crash.
Hundreds of people gathered Monday night to honor Garrett Schaub during a candlelight vigil. Three hundred candles were brought in to fill the entire parking lot of Mandarin High School, where Schaub would have started ninth grade this year.
Many people shed tears as the memorial for Schaub continued Monday night. People at the vigil told News4Jax that Schaub was a dependable, good friend who was loved by many. Schaub's father spoke about the dangers of drinking and driving.
"Kids need to be more responsible. Kids need to step up to the plate. If they see a friend that maybe is too impaired to drive, don't get in the car with them. Help them out. Bring them home. Let them crash at your place or something like that. It's not worth risking your life over it," said Garrett's father, Larry Schaub.
The Schaub family is planning a celebration of Garrett's life later this week.
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