Community mourns teens killed in Homecoming night crash

Friends and families are grieving after a deadly crash in Bradenton claimed the lives of two teenagers over the weekend.

Troopers said the crash happened on State Road 64 at Pope Road shortly after 7:30 p.m. According to investigators, 17-year-old Chase Coyner attempted to make a left turn onto Pope Road and turned in the direct path of an oncoming Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Jason Bearden was about to turn right across the roadway when it saw it happen.

"I saw the vehicle flip into the air probably five or six times," Bearden said. "It actually hit the light pole here. The light pole actually went up into the air about 50 feet."

Bearden told his wife to call 911, then ran toward the victims. He says the teenage boys didn't respond to him.

"They were not responding to my voice," he recalled.

Coyner and his passenger, 15-year-old Matthew Powers, were both pronounced dead.

Bridgette Bach, a close friend of Coyner, says Chase was only giving Matthew a ride to the dance and then returning home because it was his father's birthday.

"He was just planning on giving his good friend a ride and then coming home and spending good quality family time, because that's the kind of person he was," she said.

Ron Lambert, Matthew's band teacher, says the sophomore was just beginning to learn a new instrument.

"He was a clarinet player, in the marching band, and concert band," Lambert said. "But this was his first year playing tenor sax in our jazz band. So he was just getting to dig into playing jazz so he was having fun with that."

Lambert says he told his students Monday to focus on the way Matthew lived.

"Every memory we have of him is positive and silly, so if anything, lean on those, instead of the tragedy of the situation," he said.

A 12-year-old passenger in the pickup truck was critically injured, troopers said. The driver of the truck, 39-year-old Dallas Gross, suffered minor injuries. According to FHP investigators, neither the father nor daughter were wearing a seat belt.