VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A group of high schoolers are heartbroken after the unexpected death of their fellow classmate and dear friend, 17-year-old Nikita de Groot.
“Everyone in Virginia Beach and all over America, they would’ve fallen in love with her the minute they met her,” said Jaida Ratliff.
Ratliff is de Groot’s friend, who says the teen was a rising senior at Cox High School and had a bright future ahead of her and an outgoing personality.
De Groot was one of three inside a red Chevrolet pickup when it crashed on S. Parliament Drive about two weeks ago. She went to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, but later died.
Today, the skid marks still remain, and a cross stands in her memory.
“I just heard she was in a coma. Then I went to the hospital and I thought everything was going to be OK,” recalled Olivia Kasinger, de Groot’s best friend. “Then I got brought back and I was told she was gone.”
The couple who lives in the home where it happened says it sounded like a bomb going off when the pick-up truck hit. They say de Groot didn’t have a pulse when they ran outside to try and help her.
Police say all three people inside the truck weren’t wearing seat belts at the time, and were ejected — including de Groot’s boyfriend, Gabe. Ratliff hopes it reminds everyone to buckle up.
“I think it opened everyone’s eyes who was close to her and close to Gabe, because if she was wearing a seat belt she would’ve have been able to fly out the back of the car,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff wants to keep de Groot’s memory alive, so she organized a benefit night at Cox High School to fund a memorial for her and her family.
The fundraiser is at Shorebreak on Shore Drive on July 29 starting at 5 p.m 15% of the proceeds will go towards the cause.
If you can’t make it, you can also donate to the GoFundMe page by clicking here.
The 18-year-old driver, Virginia Beach resident Austin Foley, was cited for reckless driving and other traffic offenses.
It’s unclear what led up to the crash, but police did say that speed was considered a factor.