14 y/o struck by suspected DUI driver dies

Posted at 12:20 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 17:21:27-05

A 14-year-old girl succumbed to injuries she sustained after being hit by a suspected drunk driver Sunday afternoon.  The teen was riding on a bike, along with her 13-year-old brother, when they were struck, FHP troopers say.

Katelyn Zimmerman, an 8th grader at Inverness Middle School, died at Shand's Hospital in Gainesville Tuesday night.  Her family donated her organs.

"She was giving, she gave up to the very end," said Shawn Zimmerman, Katelyn's father.

Her brother, Dylan, remains in critical condition.

"They had a bond," ZImmerman, of his children.

Katelyn was a twin.  Her sister Savannah told ABC Action News she had a bad feeling in her gut at the time of the accident.

"I've never felt that before," said Savannah.

According to FHP troopers, the siblings were sharing a bike and riding north on the east side of North Independence Highway near Forest Drive around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, troopers report Brandon Woodard, 40, of Inverness, was driving a 2006 Chevy Suburban north on North Independence Highway, approaching the teenagers from behind.

The teens swerved into the path of the Woodard's car and both were thrown from the bicycle.

FHP troopers told ABC Action News it is unclear why the teens swerved.

The boy was thrown into the southbound lanes.  Katelyn was thrown into the northbound lanes.

"If he hadn't have been drunk this wouldn't have happened.  He should fry.  He took my child," Zimmerman said.

Woodard stopped at the scene, troopers say.

An arrest affidavit states troopers and deputies smelled alcohol on Woodard's breath.

Woodard did submit to a breath test around 8:30 p.m. and blew a .133, an arrest report states.

Woodard was charged with DUI at the time. 

It is likely his charges will now be upped in the wake of Katelyn's death.

Grief counselors are on hand at the middle school. 

"It feels like I have no life without her," Savannah said tearfully.

No funeral arrangements have been made.

Family told ABC Action News they are now focusing on Dylan. The 6th graders remains in critical condition in the pediatric ICU at Shand's.

He has undergone surgery on his head, neck, spine and spleen, according to his father.

Doctors have him in a medically induced coma.  He is not aware his sister died.

"It's going to be hard," ZImmerman said.

Zimmerman is now calling for the county to put sidewalks up on the road.  He feels had his children been able to utilize a sidewalk, instead of having to share the 45 mph road, this wouldn't have happened.