Fla. girl dies after crash with deputy's patrol car

The deputy did not have his emergency lights or sirens on

Sun Sentinel

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. — A 14-year-old girl who was due to have her braces off in two weeks died after a collision with a deputy's patrol car over the weekend.

According to authorities, Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Frank McCurrie did not have his emergency lights or sirens on as he traveled south on Dixie Highway. His patrol car collided with a Honda Civic heading north and making a left turn at the intersection with Northeast 56th Street.

Passenger Cara Catlin, 14, was killed in the crash. The driver, her stepsister Heather Meyer, 21, and another passenger, Gabriel Alegria, were injured and taken to Broward General Medical Center.

McCurrie was taken to Holy Cross Hospital with minor injuries.

"It's not OK with us that he didn't have his [emergency] lights on," said Catlin's aunt, Edie Bronder, of Port Saint Lucie. "My niece is dead and we are angry about that."

Bronder said Catlin, a freshman at Northeast High School in Oakland Park, and Meyer were on their way to grab something to eat when the crash happened just before 10 p.m. Saturday.

"Had his [emergency] lights been on, she would have never have made that turn," Bronder said.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the crash. Officials could not say Sunday whether the deputy was responding to a call or off duty at the time.

"That will all come out during the investigation," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Dani Moschella.

Broward Sheriff's Office officials said it was not immediately known how fast the two cars were going or which driver may have been at fault.

Witness Jonathan Vaden, 23, said he was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk when he saw the crash. He said Catlin, a friend of his, was thrown from the car and landed under a pickup truck stopped at the intersection.

"I checked her pulse, but...," he said, shaking his head. Vaden gave a statement to investigators.

The collision was so violent that the Honda's back end was torn off and landed several yards away.

Friends left a cross, a teddy bear, and flowers at the crash site Sunday.

Kim Young, a teacher at James S. Rickards Middle School, said Catlin, had been a peer counselor while a student there. As a volunteer, she helped students make the transition to high school.

"She was always willing to help," Young said. "She was an inspiration to everyone."

Students and friends planned a vigil Sunday evening at the beach off Anglins Fishing Pier at Commercial Boulevard and A1A. They would wear purple and white, two of Catlin's favorite colors.

Friends said the outgoing teen loved her television production classes and cheerleading and thought about becoming a nurse.

"She was always so sweet," said classmate Alexis Sanchez, 15. "She didn't deserve this."

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