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'Why take that risk?' Mother's warning after 16-year-old daughter died in illegal street racing crash

A mother's warning after he daughter died in an illegal street racing crash
Posted at 7:20 PM, Feb 03, 2023

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A California mother is warning people about the dangers of illegal street racing after she lost her daughter.

Lili Trujillo Puckett is the founder of "Street Racing Kills." She started the organization after her 16-year-old died in a car crash when a friend decided to race another friend.

"She was just a passenger in the backseat of the boy's car. He was taking her home. He was a week shy of 18. She was 16 years old with her girlfriends. He saw a friend. They challenged each other to a street race and crashed and killed my daughter," said Puckett.

Puckett said nearly five months after her daughter's death, she started talking to the youth at schools. Her nonprofit organization raises awareness and mentors youth about the dangers of street racing and other reckless driving practices.

"You just never think it’s going to happen to you; why take that risk? Why not just make it home safely," said Puckett.

More than a dozen people were arrested by the Tampa Police Department between Friday, January 27, through Sunday, January 29, 2023, as part of an operation to dismantle a planned street racing event throughout Tampa Bay.

TAMPA VS. EVERYBODY

Officers became aware of an event circulating on social media dubbed the "Tampa vs. Everybody" takeover. Participants were sharing information privately via social media apps regarding meeting locations where they would either race or perform vehicle stunts in the roadways, such as "donuts" in front of spectators, shutting down the streets.

"For them, what that entailed was a bunch of people from out-of-state and local who are going to come together, block off large intersections like you saw on some of the videos on social media and then from there do donuts, spins, different stunts in the middle of the roadway, all for attention," said Crystal Clark with the Tampa Police Department.

Some of the participants were expected to be armed with firearms, based on information received by officers.

Street racers were located in the act at multiple locations throughout Tampa, Hillsborough County, and surrounding areas of Tampa Bay.

"Takeovers and street racing is something that just continues to pop up in popularity primarily due to social media. You have kids who see others with cars who are doing these stunts and getting attention for it, so they want to be copycats and do the same thing," said Clark.

The 14 people arrested face various charges, including fleeing to elude police and racing on highways.