LAKE CITY, Fla. -- A crash between two pickup trucks killed a local teenager and injured six others on Monday night, according to Lake City Police.
Police were called to the intersection of U.S. 41 and Southwest Malone Street just before 9 p.m. When officers arrived at the scene, they found several juveniles laying in the roadway.
One victim, Czarrah Howard Mercado, 17, was found unconscious. Officers began CPR to resuscitate her and she regained consciousness while being transported by ambulance to the Lake City Medical Center to transfer her to Trauma One Air Ambulance. While en route to the hospital, Czarra died from her injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
A 16-year-old male was also transported by LifeFlight to Shands UF in Gainesville. A 17-year-old male was taken to Shands Lake Shore Hospital, but transferred to Shands UF when doctors discovered he had a broken neck. Thee other juvenile passengers were transported locally to Shands Lake Shore and Lake City Medical Center.
The crash shut down the intersection for nearly three hours. Lake City Police, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol all responded to the scene.
Witnesses told investigators that a black 1991 Chevy pickup truck, driven by a 17-year-old male, was northbound on U.S. 41 and entered the intersection of SW Malone St., when a green 2001 Ford truck, driven by a 16-year-old male entered the same intersection driving westbound. Two juveniles sitting in the bed of the black truck were thrown from the vehicle. Czarrah, who was a passenger in the rear cab section of the green truck, was ejected through a side window. Investigators said she was not wearing a seat belt.
Lake City Police Chief Argatha Gilmore said one of the two trucks ran a red light, and investigators are working to determine which one. He added that many of the injured juveniles were not wearing seat belts.
Blood samples were collected voluntarily from both drivers and submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis.
A funeral will be held for Czarrah on Saturday at Ephiphany Catholic Church in Lake City.