3 teens killed in Stuart car crash

— The Florida Highway Patrol has identified the three people killed early Tuesday morning during a crash at Cove Road and Federal Highway.

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Troopers identified the driver as 18-year-old Nicholas P. Coady of Stuart. Connor William Graver, 16, of Hobe Sound and Christopher Harold Briglio, 18, of Tequesta, were passengers in the vehicle.

“We do believe alcohol played a part in the crash. There’s no doubt that it did,” said FHP Lt. Chris Cribbs.

The crash happened just after 2:15 a.m. when an SUV, reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed, crashed into a front-end loader working in a construction zone west of the intersection, according to officials at the scene.

Two people in the SUV were dead at the scene, and a third, airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, died there a few hours later, Cribbs said. The driver of the front-end loader was not injured.

FHP officials said the construction vehicle had just dumped a load of dirt from the U.S. 1 area onto the south side of Cove Road as part of a widening project on Cove Road. The loader was backing up and trying to get off the road when the SUV, traveling reportedly at a high rate of speed, smashed into it head-on.

Cribbs said speed likely was a factor in the crash. The speed limit on Cove Road is 35 mph.

The SUV was destroyed, Cribbs said. The three dead are men from the Treasure Coast. FHP officials are still notifying their families. The men are thought to have just dropped off someone at a nearby home before the crash happened, Cribbs said.

It is unclear where the three were going at the time of the crash.

The driver of the SUV was wearing a seatbelt; one passenger was not; and it is unclear if the third was wearing one, Cribbs said.

The yellow John Deere front-end loader was being hoisted onto a flat-bed truck trailer. The loader’s right rear tire appeared bent.

The crash woke nearby resident Harry Fenton, who heard screaming and yelling before falling back asleep, Fenton told WPTV NewsChannel 5. Fenton later heard a helicopter take off and eventually walked over to the scene.

“I looked at the car and I said, ‘My God,’ I said, ‘I don’t know how anybody could live through something like that,'” Fenton said. “It was just horrendous just the look of it the car being in a ball.”

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