Wesley Chapel teen headed to church dies in Hernando crash

Facebook Photo: Jaret Harshman

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Brooksville church congregation is mourning the death of a teenage member after the boy was killed in a crash on his way to church Wednesday night.

Jaret Michael Harshman, age 15, of Wesley Chapel, died when the subcompact car he was in ran a stop sign and was hit by a pickup truck.

Jaret Harshman running Cross County for WCHS
Jaret Harshman running Cross County for WCHS

Florida Highway Patrol investigators say it happened at 6:18 p.m. Harshman was one of three teens in a 2006 Chevrolet Aveo. The boys were driving northbound on Culbreath Road and approached a stop sign at the intersection of County Road 572, which is also known as Powell Road.

Investigators say the Aveo failed to stop at the stop sign and collided with the front end of a Dodge Ram.

Jaret Michael Harshman, age 15, was a passenger in the Aveo and was airlifted to Bayonet Point Hospital where he was pronounced dead from injuries suffered in the crash.

The driver of the Aveo, Ryan Scott Miller, 18, of Wesley Chapel and another passenger in the Aveo, Michael Miller, 17, of Wesley Chapel suffered minor injuries.

Christopher Reed Russell, 25, of Spring Hill was driving the Dodge Ram. He was not injured in the crash.

The three teens were members of Brooksville Christian Church, according to the church’s Facebook page.

“It is with great sorrow to tell you that Jaret has gone home to be with the Lord. Please keep the Harshman’s in prayer for strength and comfort,” said said Sandi MacKenzie in a post to the church’s Facebook page.

The message, which was posted to the church’s Facebook page early Thursday morning, described the surviving teens’ injuries. Ryan Miller suffered abdominal injuries and Michael Miller suffered severe injuries.

“Please keep the Miller family in your prayers as well. These boys were close friends and brothers. Our hearts are breaking over this loss and we pray for these families that God will bring them peace and comfort,” said Sandi MacKenzie in a post to the church’s Facebook page.

Everyone was wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, according to investigators.

Jaret attended Wesley Chapel High School where students and faculty members remembered him Thursday.

“It’s pretty heavy.  Pretty heavy,” said Pasco County School District counseling director Lynn Young.  “These kids are devastated by this.”

Word of Jaret’s death spread quickly at the high school. “We just try to normalize things,” Young said.

NewsChannel 8 reporter Ryan Hughes spoke to Jaret’s father, Mike, on the phone. He said the family is devastated by the news. The teen boy was just shy of his 16th birthday, which is at the end of December.

Jaret was an organ donor and some of his organs will be given to others.

On Thursday, Pasco Schools announced plans for students, faculty, and staff of Wesley Chapel High School to remember Jaret Harshman, on the school track at 5 p.m. on Friday, December 11.

His cross country teammates want to honor Jaret by holding the ceremony on the track where they ran with him this school year.  Students and school staff will pay tribute to Jaret, and then everyone who wants to participate will walk a lap around the track.  The cross country team members will lead the lap, holding a banner signed by students and staff in Jaret’s memory.

Wesley Chapel High School is located at 30651 Wells Road, Wesley Chapel.  Parking nearest to the track is located on the east side of the school.  The track is on the north side of the parking lot.

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