LEESBURG, Fla.—Dozens of vehicles lined both sides of Goose Prairie Road Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil held in remembrance of a teen who was killed in a crash Monday.
The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the names of both teens to Inside Lake Tuesday afternoon and loved ones and friends gathered to honor Michael Pasternak, 16, of Umatilla, who was the passenger in a Jeep Wrangler that overturned several times, killing him and the driver shortly before 8 p.m. Monday.
Lane Johnson, 17, of Leesburg, was driving the 2016 Wrangler eastbound on Goose Prairie Road near Felkins Road when he attempted to pass a 2005 Ford F-150 in a no-passing zone, shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi said.
The Wrangler entered the westbound lane and attempted to reenter the eastbound lane due to oncoming traffic. The rear of the Wrangler collided with the front of the F-150 and the Wrangler traveled onto the eastbound grass shoulder of the road. Johnson overcorrected, the Wrangler then traveled across both lanes, overturned several times and struck a wire fence, according to Crescenzi.
Johnson and Pasternak were pronounced deceased on the scene; they were both wearing their seatbelts. The teens were identified as adult males shortly after the crash by FHP and later confirmed to be teenagers in a media release Tuesday morning. Both teens’ next of kin were notified before their names were confirmed to Inside Lake.
The driver of the F-150 was not injured. His age and city were originally incorrect in the first media release; FHP later said he was a 38-year-old man from Umatilla.
Pasternak was a junior at Alee Academy Charter High School in Eustis and Director/Principal Cindy Emerick spoke to Inside Lake about him Tuesday afternoon. She described him as “always smiling” and he was “literally liked by everyone,” Emerick said.
“He had big plans,” Emerick said. “He was going to do something great.”
The school’s mantra is they are a “Fam-Alee” and the “Fam-Alee” bond between the students and faculty was apparent to Emerick Tuesday, she said.
“Our students had a rough day today. So did we,” she said.
Grief counselors were available on campus Tuesday and will continue to be available if needed, Emerick said.