Belleview teen struck and killed on highway

“My baby is gone,” Julie Holt told FOX 35. “I’m in shock.”

Holt lost her 17-year-old son, Zachery, on Wednesday morning in a what the Florida Highway Patrol is calling a deadly hit-and-run incident.  

“He’s one of the smartest people you’ve ever met,” she said “He was going to take on the world.”

The teenager died around 1 a.m. after he was hit from behind while walking southbound along U.S. Highway 301, near SE 125th Place in Belleview.   “He was ejected onto the shoulder of the roadway. The vehicle continued south,” said FHP Captain Gregory LaMont.

The suspected driver, Vanisha Weir, 27, of Ocala, was eventually found in Sumter County, near Wildwood.  She was arrested and now faces charges, including leaving the scene of a crash involving death, and tampering with evidence.

“I’m sorry for her,” Holt said. “She does need to own up to it.”

Holt said her son’s passion was information technology and that was going to propel him into a career as a software writer.   Holt said her son was supposed to graduate early and even get his first car this Friday. 

People who know him still can’t believe Zachery is gone.  “He was a very nice kid. He was a hard worker, and everything. He was always friendly with everyone,” said friend Kacey Connolly. “He helped everyone with everything they did.”

Connolly said she was communicating with Zachery while he was walking along the highway.  “I was texting with him,” Connolly said. “That’s when the texts completely stopped. He wasn’t answering. Nothing.”

“This is a dangerous intersection," explained William Bartling, who works near the crash site.  "People come up 301 from Belleview going 70 miles per hour sometimes.”

Through her tears, Zachery’s mother said she remembers the last thing she told her son late last night. “I love you, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”