Two girls, both 10, killed in Auburndale crash

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, September 02, 2013, 7:37 PM EDT

Two 10-year-old girls were killed Sunday evening in Auburndale after deputies said a driver possibly ran a red light and crashed into the car they were riding in.

The crash happened on Havendale Boulevard at the intersection with New Jersey Road at around 6:30 p.m.

According to reports, a 2006 Dodge Ram pick-up truck was heading westbound on Havendale Boulevard when it collided with a 2006 Volkswagen Beetle, driven by Linda H. Mercer, 60, heading south on New Jersey Road.

Deputies said the preliminary investigation indicates the driver of the pick-up truck had a red light but went through the intersection anyway.

The truck rolled over and landed right side up. The driver, who was wearing his seatbelt, was taken to Winter Haven Hospital with minor injuries.

The Beetle crossed three lanes of traffic and came to rest on the south shoulder of Havendale Bouelvard. Deputies said Mercer was wearing her seatbelt at the time. She was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with serious injuries that are not considered life-threatening.

Audrey Mercer, 14, was in the front seat at the time. Deputies said she was wearing a seatbelt and did not suffer any significant injuries.

However, two of the three passengers in the back seat - Mikalia Rojas and Morgan Milligan, both 10, - died as a result of the crash. A third back seat passenger, Maleah Rojas, 8, was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition.

Deputies said none of the girls in the back seat were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

A woman who lives near the Havendale Boulevard and New Jersey Road intersection ran to help.

"I jumped out and as they were carrying the other little girl out of the car, I immediately assisted with the CPR as one of the Winter Haven nurses started doing chest compressions,” said Tiffany Rose, a witness.

Neighbor, Mae Reynolds said she and her grandchildren played with the girls.

"Play ball mostly,” she said. “I taught some of them how to play hopscotch out here on the sidewalk, jump rope."

Reynolds said she'll miss hearing the sounds of the children outside her house.

"To think I won't hear that laughter no more is sad, it's heartbreaking,” she said.

The road was closed until about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

The investigation continues. Charges may be pending.