Teen hit-and-run victim laid to rest

Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:02:54 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 20 2013 07:24:57 PM EST

St. Johns County detectives are releasing new clues as they try to find a driver who struck and killed a 15-year-old girl Saturday night.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -

Haley Bug is what her family called her.

At only 15 years old, the victim of Saturday evening's hit-and-run was laid to rest.

Moultrie Baptist Church, the one she grew up in, was standing room only Wednesday for the funeral of Haley Smith.

The church was filled with relatives and classmates from St. Augustine High School.

"She and I were close enough to be brother -- brother and sister," said Bradley St. Pierre, a friend of Haley's.

Some got up to speak but weren't able to finish. Megan Strickland said when she was scared to ride the school bus, and Haley reached out to her and became her first friend.

"She said, 'Hey, do you want to sit next to us?' And I was like, 'To be honest, you guys look like you wanted to beat me up,'" Strickland said.

They instantly became close.

"I didn't get to say this to her, but I love you and you'll always be in my heart, and everybody loves you," Strickland said.

Haley was the bright spot in people's days. She was passionate about youth ministry, volunteering and serving as a junior police officer, called an Explorer.

The tomboy in her loved to go fishing, skateboarding and four-wheeling, but her girly side would happily trade in the camo to play dress up.

"On one occasion we had to explain to her that glittery eye shadow did not go well with a police uniform," said Deputy Kelly Kemp, a chaplain and youth pastor. "We joked about how she bedazzled her uniform to match her eyes. Haley took it in stride and joked along with it. She was that kind of kid."

Kemp, who led the service, was also Haley's youth pastor and taught her to surf and ski. He described her as fearless, which on the slopes equated to a trip to the emergency room.

"I had to pick her up and carry her to the van," he said. "We got her in the van. We walked way up that hill, didn't we? It was all the way up there. I'll never exchange those memories. We had a good time eating MoonPies on the way to the hospital."

That spark, smile and zest for life are what will be missed most from a girl ready to conquer the world, but killed before she had the chance.

Investigators recovered a broken side mirror from the scene where Haley died. They said the mirror is an after-market reproduction mirror that could fit different types of small pickup trucks and SUVs.

Detectives said they're currently looking for a small pickup truck with an unknown color (witnesses said it was gold) that should have damage to the passenger side headlight area, and a missing or recently replaced passenger side mirror. There may be damage to the passenger side windshield and passenger side A-pillar, which supports the windshield.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS.

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