Stuart girl, 16, killed in head-on crash with wrong-way driver in Hobe SoundJune 24th, 2011 by TCPalm.com
By Will Greenlee
HOBE SOUND _ Two people — including a 16-year-old girl from Stuart — died Thursday night during a fiery crash that happened after a pickup was struck by a car traveling the wrong way on U.S. 1, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Jessica Smith, of Stuart, was driving a 1996 Ford Ranger pickup truck north on U.S. 1 about 9:25 p.m. south of Osprey Street, according to the FHP. Meanwhile, David Whelan, 58, of Palm Beach Shores in Palm Beach County was driving a 2003 Chevrolet Impala south in the northbound lanes.
The vehicles collided head-on and both drivers died in the crash. Neither wore a seatbelt. U.S. 1 in the area is two lanes in either direction.
Smith would have been a junior at South Fork High School in Martin County in the upcoming year, and was a varsity cheerleader, said lifelong friend Madison McCown.
“She was an amazing girl,” McCown, 15, said Friday. “She just was the most peppist and spirited girl I’ve ever met. She was a great friend.”
McCown described Smith as a lively person who loved the beach.
“She hung out with every group. She was around everybody,” McCown said. “She loved to cheer, she loved cheerleading.”
McCown also said Smith loved her boyfriend, Troy Larkins.
Smith, an only child, had just dropped Larkins off and was on her way home at the time on the incident.
McCown’s mother, Kimberly McCown, said it was something she did on a daily basis.
”She was like my second daughter,” Kimberly McCown said. “I loved her very much and it’s a great loss and there’s a cheerleader up in Heaven now.”
Madison McCown, who helped Smith try out for cheerleading, said Smith was a beautiful person with long brown hair and brown eyes.
She loved listening to music, and had an iPod with 2,000 songs on it.
Whelan has been arrested more than 40 times since 1994 in Florida on charges including DUI, battery, disorderly intoxication, larceny, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, loitering or prowling, cocaine possession, robbery, trespassing, failure to appear and aggravated assault, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.
His most recent arrest was in April. Palm Beach Shores police arrested him on a driving with a suspended license charge.
Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:50 a.m., updated June 24, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.