At a time when thoughts of spring fever, prom and graduation are the focus, three Lakewood High School seniors were involved in a vehicle crash near their campus in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, April 24 that left one of them dead at the scene.
The high school is located at 1400 54th Ave. S. and the site of the single-vehicle accident was near the corner of 54th Avenue South and 16th Court, close enough to the campus that administrators and staff heard the sound of the crash.
According to police, Bryson Welton-Williams, 18, was driving west on 54th Avenue South when he lost control and hit a tree located in the grassy median. He died at the scene.
Joshua Heath and Ramcharan Lattimore, both 18, were passengers who survived. According to the Tampa Bay Times, they were taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for medical treatment.
“The way the car was wrapped around the tree, it’s just terrible,” said Frank Lattimore, Ramcharan “Trey” Lattimore’s father on camera with ABC Action News. “I can’t believe that anyone survived that crash.”
Frank said his son was wearing a seatbelt and he believes that is why his son was lucky enough to escape without serious injury, according to ABC Action News. St. Petersburg Police said that he was the only person in the car wearing a seatbelt.
According to the Times, Principal Erin Savage heard the crash just before 2 p.m. then she received a radio call that several students had been in a vehicle accident just off of the school grounds. She and other school personnel raced out of the building and into the street.
What they found was a black Toyota Corolla with the passenger side wrapped around the tree.
Dismissal time for the day is scheduled at 2:05 p.m., which meant that when students left the campus, they saw the crash scene.
The Times reported that one passenger managed to crawl from the wreckage while the other surviving teen had to be extricated from the car. Late on Tuesday, Heath was listed in critical condition.
The three friends were just three days away from the date of their senior prom and 22 days away from graduation.
“I’ve been here three years. I’ve known all of them,” said Savage. “I see them every day in the hallways. I speak to them. They’re very respectful.”
Pinellas County Schools made arrangements for grief counselors for students and staff to be on campus in the Media Center for both Tuesday and Wednesday.
A memorial at the crash site began Tuesday evening with people leaving candles, flowers and teddy bears.
Friday, April 27, at 8 p.m., the senior class will hold their prom at the Gulfport Casino. Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for Wednesday, May 16 at Tropicana Field.
Lattimore told ABC Action News that he is thankful his son Trey is back home from the hospital with only minor scratches and scars. He knows another family isn’t as lucky.
Lattimore also told the television station that the car involved in Tuesday’s deadly crash was an early graduation present to his son.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.