SARASOTA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Two young brothers were among three people killed in an early morning crash Wednesday on the John Ringling Causeway.
The crash, which involved only one vehicle, occurred before 1 a.m. Wednesday in the westbound lanes of John Ringling Causeway at Bird Key Drive, according to the Sarasota Police Department. Officials said the driver lost control, struck the sidewall of the bridge, then hit a tree. At some point in that sequence, a 15-year-old girl was ejected from the sedan.
The car then caught fire. After the flames were put out, two brothers were found inside the vehicle, deceased. They were later identified as Oscar Flores, 19, and Daniel Flores, 17, both of Sarasota.
The third victim was identified as Isabella Paoletta of Sarasota. Investigators weren't immediately sure of her relationship to the brothers.
Hours later, hundreds of family and friends gathered at the scene of the accident for a vigil.
"I saw Bella before she was getting ready to leave in the car and always with a big, beautiful, bright smile, and she waved goodbye to me and me not knowing this was the last time I'd ever see her," said Alia Moncado, a family friend who accompanied Bella's mother to the scene of the crash Wednesday afternoon. "She was beautiful. She can light up a room just with her smile alone."
Bella's mother said her daughter had a sense of humor, was well liked by her peers, had a sweet soul and would always take any opportunity to laugh or smile.
Moncado said her focus is helping the family through the difficult times moving forward.
"The first person I thought of [after learning about the accident] was her mom. Her mom and her were like -- you seen Bella, you seen her mom. Beautiful souls both of them."
Friends of the Flores brothers said their father had unexpectedly passed away a few months ago.
Mourners at the vigil couldn't imagine what that family is going through.
"For [Oscar and Daniel] to experience that and they're just trying to get on with their lives and maybe they were just trying to let loose one night and it just so happened that Bella was there and everything just went for the worst. And I just can't imagine what they're going through, their families, regrets that they may have," said Marty Giler, one of Bella's friends. "Cherish every moment you have with someone because you never know when it's going to be the last."
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Police said it's unknown whether speed, alcohol or drugs played a role; they are asking for anyone with any information, videos, or photos related to the crash to call Officer Jason Frank at 941-364-7370.