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Father of Sandalwood High senior killed in crash: 'Part of our family is gone'

2 teens die in separate accidents near Jacksonville high schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville father described his family as no longer being whole after his 18-year-old son was killed in a crash Thursday at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and St. Johns Bluff. 

Denny Grahovic died after a 39-year-old woman driving a Nissan SUV ran a red light at high speeds and jumped the center concrete median, slammed into a Honda, then hit a commercial gasoline tanker truck and a Lexus, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

RELATED: Teen killed in crash on Beach Boulevard at St. Johns Bluff Road

The driver of the Nissan and two teenagers in the Honda were taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, officials said.

Late Thursday, police said, Denny, who was driving the Honda, died of his injuries. His 16-year-old female passenger has not been identified.

The death of the senior at Sandalwood High School has devastated the community and his family, including his father, Ahmet Grahovic. 

Ahmet told News4Jax that Friday marked 20 years to the day since he and his wife moved to the United States from Bosnia. But now, he continues to struggle with the loss of his son. 

"A big part of our family is gone and it's hard. I don't know exactly what happened there, but all I know is that we lost a very, very good boy. A very good son and only son," Ahmet said. "There's a lot of suffering over here and I don't know how I'm going to survive these next couple of days or the rest of my life."

Ahmet said he hopes all drivers see his son's story and make sure they stay safe by eliminating distractions behind the wheel.

"Please stay off of your phones and pay attention to where you're driving and your surroundings. Please do, because you're going to kill somebody out there," Ahmet said.

Whilgee Vincent, a senior at Sandalwood High School, described Denny as a loving and dependable friend. He said he couldn't believe his friend died just hours after they had been hanging out in the school's senior parking lot Thursday morning.

"I was was him the morning, yesterday morning, before we went to class together. And for me to hear that he passes, it just, like, it didn't seem real," Whilgee said. "It's crazy, just even the thought of knowing he's gone still hasn't sat in with me."

The public is invited to attend Denny's funeral Sunday afternoon at Green Lawn on Beach Boulevard. There will be a viewing from noon to 1 p.m. and then the funeral service will follow from 1 to 2 p.m.

Hours later after the crash that killed Denny, 16-year-old Atlantic Coast High School student Derek George died when his car slid off a road not far from the school and struck a tree, police said. 

Grief counselors were on campus at the two Duval County high schools Friday as classmates mourn the loss of the two students.

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."