Vigils held for Fleming Island teen killed at bus stop

Gianna Asencio, 14, hit by car while standing at bus stop

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – A huge crowd gathered Thursday night to pay respects to a 14-year-old killed at her bus stop Thursday morning in Fleming Island. Some of the locals in attendance knew Gianna Asencio, most did not. But the death touched the entire Fleming Island community, and the overwhelming number of people who showed up indicated that the entire community was mourning.

Emotion flowed throughout the crowd, which backed up Clay County traffic for miles. The accident left Fleming Island students including Destiny Makepeace in tears.

"It's really upsetting because I never got to really really know her and she was so sweet whenever I did talk to her and I'm going to miss seeing her every day," Destiny said.

Hundreds of people flooded Eagle Harbor Parkway, the site where Asencio was hit and killed. The sidewalk and road filled with mourners who raised candles at 6:40 p.m., exactly 12 hours after the Fleming Island student was killed.

Sprinkled among the hundreds who showed up to pay their respects to Asencio were the few on hand when she was hit by a car walking to the bus stop, including neighbors Marie Applegate and her husband.

"He heard the wreck and thought it was two cars and the next-door neighbor, so he jumped the fence with a flashlight and there was a nurse and a senior high student trying to rescue her before EMTs got here," Marie Applegate said.

The Applegates are now trying to get the word out now of a GoFundMe site set up to help with funeral expenses. Marie Applegate said she thinks the assistance is well needed.

"It's to help with the funeral services and family. They're new to Jacksonville and only been here six months," Marie Applegate said. "(They) moved here from New York and don't have the finances to bury their daughter."

Josh Brandon, a friend of the victim, was nearby when the accident occurred.

"She went quite a far distance after being hit," he said. "I automatically... couldn't... I was already on the bus, so when I asked to get off the bus they wouldn't let me, so I had to go to the back of the bus and pull the emergency lever to go see what was going on."

Brandon said he eventually got off of the bus to see the end result of the tragic accident.

"We knew at that point after we saw white cover over her that she was dead. And I did know her, she was very nice girl. (She was) always trying to make people laugh, always trying to get (the) last word. Always fun to hang out with," he said

The 58-year-old driver who hit the teen is not being charged in the accident, but that wasn't the focus of the crowd Thursday evening. Instead it was on remembering Gianna, who News4Jax was told by a lot of people is known for being upbeat and brightening the days of everyone who knew her.

"She was life-changing, put a smile on anybody's face. Anybody that could walk up to her, she'd put a smile on her face instantly," said Izzy Karr, a friend of Gianna.

The Fleming Island High community, rocked by Gianna's death, has begun the long healing process. The Eagle Harbor Parkway location was just one of two vigils on Thursday.

Christ Church in Fleming Island also opened its doors for anyone who wanted to pay respects. Some extracurricular activities were also canceled or affected. In fact, Orange Park High School put out its support for Fleming Island High at the baseball game between the schools.

There are numerous fundraisers to help the family with funeral expenses, including a car wash that's being put on Saturday by the ROTC and GROTC.

Click here to donate to Asencio's GoFundMe account.

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