Eagle Harbor community, Fleming Island High School shocked by student's death
FHP: Driver who struck 14-year-old may not face charges
FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – Family and friends of a 14-year-old Clay County student who died after being struck by a car while walking to her bus stop early Thursday morning gathered in the evening for a vigil.
At 6:40 a.m., Gianna Asencio was attempting to cross Eagle Harbor Parkway near the intersection of Woodlake Drive when she was struck by a Mercury Grand Marquis driven by a 58-year-old Orange Park man, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Troopers said Gianna, a freshman at Fleming Island High School, was in the crosswalk but tried cross to between two cars. She died at the scene.
Gianna lived right across the street.
Her classmates riding the bus Gianna would have boarded saw the accident scene. The sight was so disturbing that Garrett Barnes said he had to get off the bus.
"The bus driver wouldn't let us get off," Barnes said. "I didn't want to sit there and deal with it all, so I jumped out of the back of the bus and got a ride to school."
Friends said Gianna had recently moved to Fleming Island from New York and described her as a great person with a magnetic personality who always knew how to make others smile.
"Our whole school was grieving all day," said student Jessica Anderson. "I mean, the whole entire school was quiet."
A prayer circle formed in the campus courtyard after fifth period.
"It was almost the whole entire school, they just stood around the eagle and prayed over her and did a moment of silence for her and her parents," said Emily Lane Felts. "It was just so nice to see everybody connected like that and to step up for one of their own."
Troopers investigating the pedestrian accident said it was not yet clear if the driver would be charged.
"I would not think at this point that there was a speed situation. One car passed, then she tried to cross between the first car and the second car. My assumption is that because of the time of day, with the vehicles being dark in color, that she may have just not seen the second car," said FHP Capt. Keith Gaston. "The driver is very upset."
The Clay County Sheriff's Office assisted FHP with the investigation. Authorities closed Eagle Harbor Parkway and Woodlake Drive for several hours while they investigated. The roads reopened around 10 a.m.
Teachers at Fleming Island High School read the following message to students, and it was also posted on the school's Facebook page:
"As many of you are now aware the Fleming Island high school family has experienced the tragic loss of one of our students. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family as we all grieve together. The family has been notified. A district crisis team is on site with grief counselors and resources to help support the families and students impacted."
Nicholas Blackman, a 15-year-old who lives in the area, said he saw police lights and went outside to see what was going on.
"Woke up to my mom telling me there were a lot of police cars outside, I could see all the lights from my window. I went out there and someone was screaming hysterically, 'Oh my God, somebody help me,'" said Blackman.
Neighbors in the area told News4Jax that there is a crossing sign with a decreased speed limit during the early morning hours before elementary school starts.
Blackman said crossing the intersection makes him nervous sometimes.
"Sometimes [the cars] slow down to let us cross. We usually wait for a break in cars to cross. Even though you check both ways, you never know what's gonna come speeding down. It's early in the morning and a lot of people are trying to get to work," said Blackman.
According to the CCSO, at the time of the incident there was not an active school zone or CCSO Crossing Guard working in the area. The school zone near the area of the crash site is the one for Fleming Island Elementary School, which isn't activated until after 7:15 a.m. -- 45 minutes after the accident.
A memorial car wash is planned Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Goodyear on County Road 220. The ROTC and GROTC is organizing the event, and funds raised will go to Gianna's family.
Anyone interested in helping the family with funeral costs can donate at gofundme.com.
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