Summer is considered the 100 deadliest days for young drivers, and a Brevard teen almost became another statistic over Memorial Day weekend after crashing into a restaurant while under the influence .
On Sunday morning, a Titusville police officer on patrol noticed a car driving with only the fog lights on. After the officer switched on the emergency lights, the SUV sped about 90 mph, according to the police report.
The driver of the SUV lost control, and the car flipped at least once, ending up partially inside La Marimba Mexican Restaurant.
According to Titusville Police Chief John Lau, the driver was a 17-year-old with a suspended license. The front seat passenger, who is the owner of the SUV, is a 24 year old woman with a suspended license, and the back seat passenger is a 24-year-old man.
After the crash, the teen fled the scene, and the two passengers had to be transported to the hospital with serious injuries. They are expected to survive.
“That night, there were bad choices all over the place, and it’s costing lives,” Lau said.
The "100 deadliest days"
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 100 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day are the deadliest for teens ages 16 to 20, and fatalities are on the rise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that teens are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they've been drinking.
Police say the 17-year-old she fled the scene of the crash because she was driving with a suspended license. She tried to run, but a K9 was able to find her, and she was taken into custody.
Documents show she later admitted to drinking beer that night.
The choices she's making today, hopefully are not the choices she's making five years from now,” Lau said.
Chris Weitzel, the older brother of the backseat passenger who is currently in an Intensive Care Unit, says he hopes this is a wakeup call for everyone involved.
“Probably just seconds away from dying; he’s lucky. He has broken rib, collapse lung, fractured vertebrae. They don't know when is he going to get better,” Weitzel said.
He said that moving forward, he hopes people realize the dangers of drinking and driving — it’s not worth ending up in jail or killing someone.
He went on to say with ride-sharing services being affordable, there's no excuse for them to have been in a car where a teen suspected of drinking was behind the wheel.
The owner of the vehicle could possibly face charges for child neglect, but that decision is up to the state and if they have enough evidence.
Ana Martinez, the owner of La Marimba, says the electrical repairs are going to be very costly, along with the cosmetic damage the crash caused.
Martinez says when she showed up in the morning and saw the dismantled car in the front of the business, her heart sank because she thought someone died, but thankfully nobody did.
She wants La Marimba customers to know that even though they are under repair, they are open for business during their regular hours.
This story originally appeared on MyNews13