GHS student dies in weekend accident

Update (8:55 p.m.): GPD has confirmed the identities of the two women involved in the accident: Melissa and Audrey Cheves. The driver of the Jeep remains unidentified. 

Our original story (2:56 p.m.): 

A Gainesville High School senior died in a weekend car crash—two days after her 18th birthday and less than two weeks before graduation. 

The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) announced the news Monday afternoon. Although GPD declined to identify the people involved, citing an ongoing investigation, multiple tributes to 18-year-old Audrey Cheves were posted online. 

“It is with a heavy heart today that I pay tribute to an amazing young woman who was a part of our band and guard family for many years,” said a post on the Gainesville High School Band Facebook page, which noted Cheves had been accepted to Santa Fe College. “Audrey Cheves we are so thankful for your days with us and will hold our families close tonight knowing you left yours too soon.”

GPD said multiple units responded to the crash around 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the 1400 block of NW 39th Avenue. The initial investigation found that a Toyota sedan was leaving the Publix parking lot when it was struck by a Jeep traveling on NW 39th Avenue at a high rate of speed, GPD reported.

The collision left both Audrey Cheves, the passenger, and her mother Melissa Cheves, who was driving, trapped in the Toyota. First responders from Gainesville Fire Rescue had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate the women. 

Melissa Cheves was transported to UF Shands Hospital and remains in critical condition.

“We are hoping and praying for a full recovery,” wrote Lisa Barrs on a GoFundMe page set up for the family. “However, it will be a long road for her.”

Barrs started the page Sunday with a goal of raising $5,000, but as of Monday afternoon it had already generated more than $12,000. 

Barrs wrote that the accident occurred after Melissa had picked up Audrey from work.

“GPD extends its condolences and prayers to the family that lost their loved one,” GPD said in a statement. 

The crash sent the Jeep careening into a wall on the north side of NW 39th Avenue. The driver also went to UF Shands, where he remains in intensive care with head injuries, according to GPD.

GPD continues to investigate the crash and has not yet issued any charges or citations. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information and quotes.

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