The past 24 hours have been horrific and heartbreaking for Plant High School senior Taylor Lazzara.
Taylor survived a deadly car crash Friday night, but her best friend and classmate, 18-year-old Amanda Pierce did not.
"She was always smiling," Taylor said Saturday night, not long after arriving back in Tampa following a stay at a Lee County hospital.
Amanda and Taylor were heading to Tallahassee to pick up Amanda's older sister, who is a college student at Florida State University.
The girls were traveling on Interstate 10 in Jefferson County when according to a Florida Highway Patrol report they came upon an accident scene.
"She tried to avoid a white car that was stopped," Taylor explained. "She swerved to the right too hard and she tried fixing herself and she started spinning."
Pierce's 2001 Acura slammed into a tree the report states. She was transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.
There were hugs, tears and candles as dozens of friends from Plant High School gathered at a park at Davis Islands to lean on each other after hearing the tragic news.
Amanda's friends say the popular senior had a heart of gold. She loved adventure but her passion was children.
"She wanted to work with special needs kids. She loved spending time with kids," says friend Lindsey Hernandez. "She loved them. She would baby-sit [and was involved with] Best Buddies, she was involved in that a lot."
As balloon messages from the heart were being written, those who know Amanda best, want everyone to know what the community has lost.
Hernandez: "I would describe Amanda as a caring, wonderful person you would want to have in your life."
The Hillsborough County School District is currently on spring break but officials say grief counselors will be available at Plant High School when students return next week.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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