Hundreds gather to remember Stuart teen killed in wrong-way crash

HOBE SOUND, Fla. - Burning brightly against the darkening sky, candles lit up smiling faces in the crowd.

There were plenty of reasons to laugh. That's what Jessica Smith made her friends do every day.

"She didn't not like anyone," says Jessica's boyfriend, Troy Larkin.  "She was friends with everyone and it feels good to have all these people around."

Hundreds of people packed Hobe Sound Beach Tuesday night to say goodbye to the 16-year-old.

She was heading home Thursday night when the Florida Highway Patrol says a car driven by David Whelen, 58, slammed head-on into Jessica's pickup truck. Both drivers died.

Whelen, troopers say, was on the wrong side of the road, driving south in the northbound lanes of U.S. 1.

The Palm Beach Shores resident had a lengthy criminal history, 44 arrests for charges including DUI and driving with a suspended license.

"I just want to know why he was out on the road when he shouldn't have (been)," says Larkin.

Jessica would have been a junior at South Fork High School this fall and a member of the cheerleading squad.

She spent her last week at cheer camp with some of her best friends.

She had a lot of them.

"I didn't realize how many people she affected," says friend Madison McCown.  "Like I didn't realize all these people loved her so much and it's crazy that so many people just loved her and like cherished her as much as I did."
 

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