High schooler killed in head-on crash, Florida reports say. ‘Piece of my heart died’

A high school senior died after she was hit head-on by a wrong-way driver, Florida reports say.

Florida Highway Patrol said the wreck happened just before 1 a.m. March 17 in Escambia County when a Chevrolet sedan drove the wrong way on Highway 29, colliding head-on with a Nissan SUV. The sedan caught fire, trapping the driver inside.

Both drivers died at the scene, according to a highway patrol report.

Highway patrol said the driver of the sedan has not been identified.

Kara Santorelli, 18, was the driver in the Nissan SUV, according to NorthEscambia.com. Loved ones confirmed she died in a car wreck in a GoFundMe.

Santorelli was a senior at Northview High School, according to a March 20 Facebook post from the school.

“We hold tight to beautiful memories that she had left with us. Her beautiful smile and kind spirit will continue to be in the hearts of her friends and classmates,” the school said.

Additional counselors were on campus to help students and staff following Santorelli’s death, Escambia County Public Schools told WEAR.

Santorelli loved spending time on the beach and boating with her family as well as making TikTok videos with her best friend, according to her obituary.

“She lived life to the fullest and her light shined bright,” her obituary said.

Loved ones shared tributes for Santorelli on social media.

“A little piece of my heart died today when I found out my niece went to heaven,” Santorelli’s aunt, Gina Southard, said in a Facebook post. “I love your beautiful soul Kara!”

She had the biggest smile, the most bubbly spirit, she was just so beautiful inside and out,” another loved one wrote. “She lit up a room anywhere she went.”

“We all know that Kara is in heaven with her family members who have gone on before her,” a family member posted. “I can only imagine the joy that she is bringing everyone she sees there.”

Escambia County is about 200 miles west of Tallahassee.

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