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Teen charged with felony after deadly DUI crash in Julington Creek

ST. JOHNS , Fla. – A 16-year-old is facing DUI charges after a deadly crash Sunday morning in Julington Creek.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, an 18-year-old suffered serious injuries when the car he was in crashed into a tree off Bishop Estates Road. He was thrown from the car.

Deputies said he died at a hospital.

The Sheriff’s Office did not release the victim’s name, but a GoFundMe account set up for his family identified him as Jack Wheeler. He was a senior at Creekside High School who was described as a great friend and student-athlete who pushed others to be better.

“He changed the way we view the future and how he was always inspired to, like, do more in his life and get the grades he wanted and push so hard. And now it’s like, it’s just going to make us do so much more,” said friend Alex Gerdak.

Jonathan O’Brien, the 16-year-old deputies say was behind the wheel when the car crashed Sunday morning, has been charged with DUI, DUI involving serious bodily injury and DUI involving property damage.

Deputies said the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro was headed west on Bishop Estates Road about 3 a.m. Sunday when it left the road and hit a tree.

According to his arrest report, O’Brien smelled strongly of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot and watery. The deputy who filed the report said O’Brien “displayed a noticeable sway from front to back and side to side as he stood and spoke with a mumbled speech.”

The deputy said O’Brien admitted to drinking a 32-ounce Corona beer and that he “displayed numerous indicators of impairment” during field sobriety tests.

O’Brien’s blood alcohol was measured at 0.073 and then 0.068.

O’Brien and another passenger, a 17-year-old boy, were treated for minor injuries.

A makeshift memorial was formed on the side of the road where the crash happened and there was a balloon release Monday afternoon in honor of Wheeler.

Gerdak said Wheeler is being remembered by his fun personality and contagious laugh.

“He’s just like a wonderful kid. He’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. He was loved by so many. Nobody ever had anything against him,” Gerdak said. “He was such a good person and it’s just terrible.”

A balloon release was held in honor of Jack Wheeler.
A balloon release was held in honor of Jack Wheeler. (Special to WJXT/WJXT)

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