ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A Creekside High School senior was leaving church when he died in a single-vehicle crash Wednesday night on Longleaf Pine Parkway, just north of County Road 210.
Michael Jarek Sonognini, 17, of St. Johns, was described by his friends as a courageous, funny and caring young man.
Sonognini's girlfriend told News4Jax on Thursday that he was a great person all around.
About 8:30 p.m., Sonognini was driving north on Longleaf Pine Parkway, south of Greenbriar Road, when he lost control of the 2001 Lexus, which traveled across the median and overturned, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Troopers said the teen, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle. He died at the scene.
A memorial was set up at the site of the crash and it continued to grow throughout the day, leading to a vigil that was held Thursday night.
As close friends lit candles, they reminisced about Sonognini's humor and celebrated his love for fishing.
"He was just a very genuine and passionate person. If you were going to be friends with him, he was going to be friends with you until you messed him over," said Madison Glatz, one of his friends. "He was very funny, a very caring person."
St. Johns County School officials said there was a crisis team -- made up of counselors, social workers and psychologists -- at Creekside High School, where Sonognini was a student.
"I really couldn't handle it today. A lot of me and my friends, we went to counseling and I made it through first period. And they let us leave because I couldn't handle it," Glatz said.
Loved ones who attended the vigil said Sonognini forever impacted their lives for the better, and he will be very missed.
"He did mean something and we can show that he means something," Glatz said. "People do care about him, and he wasn't just another person out there."
Residents in the area said their hearts go out to Sonognini's family.
"It's such a young life. He had so much ahead of him," said Mary Petrie, who lives along Longleaf Pine Parkway. "You think you protect your kid all your life, and when you're least expecting, they're taken from you."
Petrie and others who live nearby said the deadly crash heightens their concerns about speeding along the road.
"People are booing it down that road sometimes. Even when you're going the speed limit, or 5 (mph) over, they're riding your tail the entire time, like, 'I need to be somewhere. I need to be somewhere fast.' But is it really worth it?" Petrie said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help his family with funeral expenses.