VERO BEACH, Fla. - Saying goodbye to your best friend is never easy, especially when you had no idea your last conversation would be your last forever.
"She was more than a cousin. She was my best friend," said Ashlee Hess.
Ashlee, 20, held a fish-off and candlelight vigil at Riverside Park in Vero Beach on Wednesday.
It was for her cousin, Brittany Hare, 14. Investigators say Brittany was killed Sunday night when she was walking in her St. Lucie County neighborhood. They say Jesse McInerney, 52, swerved into the wrong lane, and the van he was driving hit her.
"She's no longer able to have a voice, so I'm taking over, and I'm going to be the voice for her," said Ashlee.
About two dozen people came out to fish, write notes to Brittany and light candles.
Ashlee would smile, around Brittany's family and friends. Then, she'd fall apart and start sobbing. The sorrow was overwhelming.
"I'm the voice of a broken family, Ahlee said.
Brittany's classmates say they're still in shock. They remember her as someone who lit up the room and gave them the confidence to shine.
"She's changed a lot of people without knowing it," said one 14-year-old girl.
"The most important thing about all this is that it needs to never happen again. It's hard," said another classmate, who broke into tears.
Investigators say after Brittany was hit, McInerney tried to leave the scene. They say charges are pending.
"He doesn't deserve to have his freedom because hers is taken," said Hess. "He doesn't deserve the happiness of life."
A funeral service in Fort Pierce is planned for Brittany on Friday.
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