ORLANDO, Fla. - Hundreds of students gathered Monday evening to mourn the death of a University of Central Florida student killed while walking home after a night out with friends.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers are still investigating why a taxi driver hit Brandon Howard, 20, who was walking next to the campus on McCulloch Road about 1:45 a.m. Saturday.
Troopers said Howard was walking in the street when he was hit by a passing taxi in the same lane.
The taxi swerved to try to avoid him, but students in the taxi told Local 6, there wasn't enough time and that everything happened too fast. Although the area is poorly lit and there are no sidewalks in the area where the accident happened, now there's also concern that other factors may have contributed to the accident.
Friends said Howard was a pre-med major and a budding rapper with music videos on YouTube. They said Howard walked home alone after going out that Friday night, so it's unclear exactly how the accident happened or why he was in the road. Local 6 spoke with one of Howard's friends who said she was supposed to give him a ride home that night, but ended up not going out.
"Probably it'd be better to go in groups, but things happen and you can't predict it," said Mike Woolfenden, a friend and fellow fraternity member.
The Florida Highway Patrol accident report listed tests are pending to see if Howard had any alcohol in his system. It is often standard to test for alcohol in an accident victim's body, but they're not ruling it out as a possible factor.
For students, it's the first day back to class, and for those who came to pay respects at Monday's vigil, it was a life lesson.
"Obviously, we all have to be smart. We're in college, people go out and they drink and what not, but everyone has to be smart, make sure they have safe rides home or take a taxi," said Kevin Petresky.
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