Remembrance planned for Williston girls killed in crash

Marqui Cook and Tiffany Oliver, both 17, died earlier this week in Dunnellon.


Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 10:44 p.m.

The three teenage girls left a friend's bonfire in Dunnellon early Dec. 27 and drove north along U.S. 41.

They sang loudly along with the radio. They made plans to grab breakfast at Waffle House.

It was nearly 3 a.m.

An opossum skittered across the road, jolting the country girls.

The driver jerked the truck's steering wheel, then lost control. The truck settled after hitting a tree.

Nicole Brown, 15, was alone and trapped inside, the weight of the truck pressing on her legs and hips.

Into the dark, she screamed for her friends.

"They were there and then they were just gone," she said.

Family and friends will gather today in Williston to say goodbye to Marqui Cook and Tiffany Oliver, both 17, who were killed in the crash along northbound U.S. 41 in Dunnellon.

Instead of a church or a funeral home, services will be held from 1 to 9 p.m. at TKO Farms, 5550 N.E. State Road 121, Williston.

Brown cannot attend; she remains at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa.

During a telephone interview Thursday, Brown provided details about the horrific crash. She said she remembers everything.

The girls were watching movies and hanging out at a friend's house. A bonfire blazed outside.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Oliver was driving a 2000 Chevrolet pickup north on the highway when she lost control while trying to negotiate a curve just south of Northwest 13th Street.

Oliver oversteered to the left, crossing the highway. Then she overcorrected and sent the truck into a spin, the report said.

Before the truck could flip, it hit a tree and both older girls were thrown out, investigators reported.

"I just remember looking up, and we hit the tree," Brown said.

Marion County Fire Rescue spent nearly three hours freeing Brown from the wreckage.

Doctors at St. Joseph's told Brown her condition is not stable enough for her to be moved to Gainesville. Brown said she won't be moved until Monday at the earliest.

All three attended Williston High School.

"I was with one or the other, or we were all together," Brown said. "We were like sisters."

Cook and Brown bonded fast. The two girls met over the summer and were inseparable.

Cook was a cheerleader, an active member of FFA, "but most importantly, a wonderful mother to Mylie," said Cook's aunt, Danna Gianforte.

Cook gave birth to Mylie Michelle Medeiros nearly three months ago, Gianforte said.

Oliver and Cook, both seniors at Williston High, would pile into bed on the weekends and squeeze together, said Tracy Kyllonen, Oliver's stepmother.

Oliver grew up "a daddy's girl," Kyllonen said, working alongside her father at the farm or at a junkyard.

When she gets out of the hospital, Brown said it will be hard to carry on without her "sisters."

"Everything's going to be different now," she said.

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