BALDWIN, Fla. – A young woman killed in a multi-vehicle crash Thursday night that shut down Interstate 10 near U.S. 301 for several hours is remembered by her loved ones for her vibrant personality.
Brieana Ahearn, 18, from Glen St. Mary, died in the crash, which involved four vehicles, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The FHP reported Ahearn was driving east on I-10 about 9:30 p.m. when she lost control of her Toyota Tacoma, which hit the median and flipped several times. Ahearn was thrown from the pickup truck. She was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, but died.
A tractor-trailer and another vehicle tried to avoid the crash, but could not. The big rig struck the guard rail and caught on fire, but the driver got out without injury. As traffic braked to avoid hitting the semi, one pickup truck rear-ended a trailer being towed by another pickup.
Beverly Detlefsen has known Ahearn since they were children and said she can't believe she's talking about her best friend in past tense.
“She's the girl you would point at from across the parking lot and just talk about how pretty she is and when you get to know her, it's that much better, because she was truly a wonderful person,” Detlefsen said.
Ahearn -- who went by Brie -- was a vibrant, active, strong-willed teen, her friend said.
She was also an award-winning barrel horse racer.
“Her heart was in her horse,” Detlefsen said. “We've all barrel raced, and we’ve been raised around horses our entire life.”
Racing is how Julie Morris knew her. She said Ahearn was talented and had a huge heart.
“I saw her riding with a child on her saddle one day, and I said, 'Is that your niece or nephew?' And she said, 'Oh no, this is just some kid that wanted to ride,' and I thought, 'How sweet.' That was the kind of person she was,” Morris said.
Ahearn was a senior at Baker County High School and was on the weightlifting team. The superintendent said grief counselors were at the school Friday to help her many friends and classmates during this difficult time.
Detlefsen said Ahearn lived with her mom in Jacksonville but went to school in Baker County, not far from where her grandmother lives. She said when Ahearn crashed Thursday night, she was likely on her way home.
Detlefsen said she’s having a really hard time, but knows that Ahearn would want her to be strong.
“There's no time for weakness,” Detlefsen said. “Honestly, she would probably come down here and beat me up if she saw how upset I was this morning and tell me to knock that off because there's no time for that. She was always very strong, in everything she did she was strong-willed and a strong-headed person.”
Funeral arrangements are in the works. The superintendent of Baker County Schools said Ahearn's classmates want to do something special for her and her family, so they’re planning a candlelight vigil, as well as a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.