ST. PETERSBURG — Alexia Douglas was an unassuming 16-year-old, known as one of the best students at Northeast High School. She ranked in the top 1 percent of her sophomore class, wowing her teachers with her intellect and unflagging work ethic.
"She could have gone on to any college of her choice," said Sarah Newman, who taught Alexia in her honors-level World History class. "She was the kind of student who made you want to be a teacher."
On Friday night, Alexia sat in the passenger seat of a 2008 Ford Escape as her best friend, Christina Shiver, pointed the car toward the orange rays of a setting sun.
They were heading west on 40th Avenue NE just before 7 p.m., when Shiver became distracted and veered right. The car mounted a concrete barrier on the bridge over Placido Bayou and slammed into a guardrail that pierced the windshield. Alexia was killed. Shiver, 16, was treated for minor injuries.
Details of the crash remained sketchy Saturday as St. Petersburg police continued to investigate. Meanwhile, school officials said they would have grief counselors available at Northeast High School on Monday.
"Everybody's just distraught," said principal Kevin Hendrick.
On Saturday morning, a stuffed angel guarded a modest bouquet of flowers at the crash site, a few feet from a broken guardrail wrapped in crime scene tape. A card in the angel's lap was signed, "Someone who will pray for your loss."
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.