Friends, family gather to remember St. Pete teens

- Friends of three teens who died when they crashed a stolen car into a pond in St. Petersburg Thursday morning had a message for other teenagers: stay in school.

Laniya Miller and Ashaunti Butler, both 15, and 16-year-old Dominique Battle were trying to get away from sheriff's deputies early Thursday morning when they drove into a retention pond at a cemetery.

Their friends held a vigil Saturday night at Campbell Park. Those who gathered remembered the lives of the three young women and talked about how to avoid another tragedy like this one.

"I understand you have rough times, money is tight. Just go to school finish school, get a job," said Aaliyah Clark, a friend of the three teens.

Coincidentally, a friend of one of the girls told FOX 13 News, she and Laniya Miller discussed that very topic in what would become their final conversation.

"When I talked to (La)niya the night before she died, the last thing she told me was to stay in school, and that is exactly what I am going to do," said Patricia Johnson.

Others took exception to the broad media coverage on their lives, and deaths.

"For them to keep going back and saying that they're wrong and that they are in the wrong, and that's what they get, that is not right for anybody to say that. That is somebody's child. What if it was your child who was in that incident?" said friend Kashonda Cummings.

Kristine Hayes, grandmother of Laniya Miller, was on hand as well. She was touched by the large outpouring of support. 

More than a hundred people turned out.

"It's just beautiful to see everyone come out here," said Hayes. "She was still a kid, she was 15."

A wake and funeral for Ashaunti Butler will be held Friday and Saturday at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg.

Funeral arrangements for Laniya Miller and Dominique Battle would be made when their bodies were released from the medical examiner's office.

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