16-year-old boy killed in crash identified

Teen was not in crosswalk, Orange City police say

ORANGE CITY, Fla. - A 16-year-old boy apparently walking to school in Volusia County was struck by a vehicle and killed, just blocks away from a deputy-involved crash, authorities said.

Brandon Vera, a 10th-grader who attended University High School in Orange City, was hit about 6.45 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Volusia Avenue and Ohio Street.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Vera walked into the path of a van driven by Hattie Joyal, 35, of Deltona.  Vera was not in a crosswalk, which is about 15 feet from the crash site, when he was struck, troopers said.

FHP said Vera was thrown 40 to 50 feet when he was hit by the car. He was dressed all in black and was outside the crosswalk when the vehicle hit him.

Joyal has not been charged in the crash, but an investigation is ongoing. Troopers have not indicated if Joyal was speeding or in the wrong.

Shortly after the crash, Vera's sister and close friends came out to the crash scene.

Jariza Vera told Local 6 reporter Mike DeForest her father was devastated by Vera's death. She said he was the youngest child in the family and the only one still living at home.

"He was an all-around good kid he was a fun guy, he likes to draw he likes to go to school, he goes to church—he's an usher, with my dad," Jariza Vera said. "He was an all around good kid."

Jariza Vera said she finds it hard to believe a driver could not see her brother crossing the street.

"My brother is a pretty tall dude," Jariza said. "Not to see him? How do you not see a tall guy crossing the street?"

Regardless of how it happened, Vera's family wants everyone on the road to be more careful driving--especially during times when students are going to school.

Volusia County school district spokeswoman Nancy Wait says there have been 16 traffic-related incidents and two deaths involving students since school began in August.

"Yes, kids do stupid things," Jariza Vera said. "But you have to be careful how fast you're going, just in case of anything."

The district launched a safety campaign in October after eight students were hit by vehicles during the first six weeks of school.

Just before 6 a.m., a Volusia County sheriff's deputy was involved in a crash in the same area.  The deputy was airlifted to a hospital but was expected to recover.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

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