Teenage girls killed in crash remembered one year later

Families successfully push for traffic light at intersection

By Clay LePard - Reporter

OCALA, Fla. - Nearly a year after two Marion County high school students were killed in a crash, their families are preparing for a candlelight vigil in their honor. 

Alyssa Comstock, 17, and Amanda Lopez, 15, were killed on Dec.15 after the two were trying to turn onto Northeast 14th Street from Northeast 30th Avenue in Ocala, but were hit by a tractor-trailer.

"It has been a struggle," Alyssa's mother, Darlene Soto, said.

Soto often sits at a bench installed near where the crash happened, with Tony Lopez, Amanda's father.

"It's been hard, heartbreaking," he said.

Flowers, stuffed animals and other decorations adorn a memorial set up near the crash for the two teenagers. Since the crash, both families have worked tirelessly to change this intersection. 

Just a few weeks after the crash, the Florida Department of Transportation commissioned a study and ultimately recommended that the intersection should have a traffic light. The FDOT recommendation sited the crashes, saying, "There is an emerging trend of angle crashes." 

"We did this for our daughters," Soto said. "They didn't die in vain." 

"This is going to leave behind a legacy for our daughters," Lopez said. "No one is going to die at this corner in the same manner they did." 

FDOT is working with the city of Ocala to pick a contractor to install the traffic signal. A contractor is expected to be picked in February and construction will begin soon after.

"It's happening faster more than anyone could expect," Lopez said. 

The bright light is something to shine in what has been a dark year for these families. 

"When that light is up, I'll probably sit out here for hours," Lopez said.

Soto is now searching for a painted rock Alyssa made several weeks before she died. It was last seen at Sholom Park.

There will be a candlelight vigil for Alyssa Comstock and Amanda Lopez at the intersection where the crash occurred at 4 p.m. on Dec.15. 
 

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