Atlanta-area teen ejected through sunroof in Florida rollover survives deadly crash

Credit: Joe Raedle

Credit: Joe Raedle

A fatal rollover crash in Florida last month, which an Atlanta-area teenager survived after being ejected from the vehicle through a sunroof, was caused by an animal running across the road, deputies said.

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A report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives details of the crash that 16-year-old Jamie Bennett, of Marietta, Georgia, survived last month. Deputies have not said why Bennett was in Florida at the time of the crash.

The girl who died, Brooke Rice, also 16, and two others in the vehicle at the time of the accident were from the Naples area, where the crash occurred, according to the local sheriff’s office.

The accident happened on June 30 at 10:20 p.m. on a neighborhood road.

The driver told investigators that an animal crossed in front of the vehicle, so she swerved. She lost control of the vehicle and ran off the road, hitting a tree and then a brick structure.

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None of the victims were wearing seat belts, according to the report, which said that investigators don’t believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Rice was in the back seat on the driver’s side.

Bennett was in the front seat before she was ejected from the vehicle through the sunroof. She was released from the hospital soon after the crash, deputies said.

The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, reported that Bennet is an "Instagram star" who has "garnered followers on Instagram with her fitness and fashion posts."

The tabloid linked to a private account that has more than 13,000 followers.

“We were simply just trying to ride down the street with the windows down to get the bugs out of the car,” Bennett said, according to the caption of a photo in the tabloid showing Bennett in the hospital, bandaged up. “Things happen in a heartbeat,” she said.

"Brooke was sticking her head out of the window letting the wind brush her face. She had the biggest smile on her face. Moments later we ended up in a ditch. l climbed back through the sunroof and searched for my friends," Bennett told the Mail.

When asked if there are any charges expected, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said that the crash is still under investigation.

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The Catholic school Rice attended held a memorial service for her, which was covered by the Naples Daily News.

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