PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil Friday night to remember a Ponte Vedra High School sophomore who died after being hit by a pickup truck on State Road A1A.
A close friend of Zander Laurin, who was his teammate on the school's wrestling team, planned the vigil, which began around sunset at Mickler's Landing Beach Park.
Laurin, 16, died Wednesday after being struck by a pickup truck that troopers said drifted out of its lane while the teen was jogging along A1A that morning before school. Laurin, who was a petty officer in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, was running to prepare for training, according to his obituary.
Laurin's friend, Li'i Johnson, said he broke down when he learned what happened.
“My whole body shut down. I couldn’t believe it. It's still hard to believe right now," Johnson said.
Johnson said he'll never forget his friend who inspired him to join the millitary.
"We love you buddy. We’re going to miss you. You live in all of our hearts," Johnson said. "You’ll always be a part of us and at boot camp. I’m going to use you as strength because I know I wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for you.”
His mother told News4Jax that Laurin was an organ donor and those wishes were honored.
Laurin's wrestling coach, Josean Gonzalez, said the teen was very hardworking and his positive attitude stood out. Gonzalez said the team and school will keep Laurin's spirit alive.
His mother said her son was selfless, spending countless hours volunteering. The family asks anyone who would like to honor Laurin to donate to K9s for Warriors in his name. Click here to do so.
"Zander counted down the days until he would be old enough to volunteer for K9s for Warriors," his obituary reads. "It was a source of joyful anticipation and was the one goal he had not yet achieved."
The obituary said family, friends and others whose lives Laurin touched are invited to the Ponte Vedra Valley Funeral Home in Ponte Vedra Beach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, with a funeral service to follow.