Liberty Middle School student, 13, dies after being hit by school district truck, police say

A 13-year-old Florida boy died Thursday afternoon after being hit by a Marion County Public School District truck.

The Liberty Middle School student, identified to FOX 35 News as Douglas Zazueta, was rushed to a hospital in Ocala in critical condition and then airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville. His family confirmed shortly after 4 p.m. that he had passed away. 

Zazueta’s grandmother nicknamed him "Turtle" when he was just a baby. "He was a good kid. He was my baby. He was my heart," said Carolyn Placencia, describing her grandson as a jokester. 


(Picture of Douglas Zaueta via Carolyn Wild)

The Ocala Police Department said the teenager was on a motorcycle with his mother around 7 a.m. Thursday.  The mother said she stopped the motorcycle, and the boy got off to run over to a friend but was hit by a school district pickup truck hauling a trailer carrying a lawn mower. It happened as he crossed the road near Southwest 20th Street, right behind the College of Central Florida. The Ocala Police Department said that information is according to Zazueta's friend, who witnessed the crash. The Ocala Police Department is still investigating.

Placencia got a call from her daughter just after the crash. "She was screaming, and I said, ‘Don’t say that!’ She said, ‘He’s dead! He’s dead!’ I said, ‘No he’s not, don’t say that!’" 

She said she tried to rush to the scene, but an officer stopped her and threatened to arrest her. "I will be filing a complaint over that because maybe they need more training to feel something for people out here." 

Meanwhile, Zazueta was stuck under the maintenance truck. "My daughter sat there and watch her son under that truck. She had to tell the lady, the truck driver, ‘Turn the truck off, you’re burning him,’" Placencia explained.

Douglas Zazueta [Photo submitted by family]

The family said they sat through ten excruciating minutes waiting for first responders – and even longer waiting for an ambulance to take the boy away.  "The few minutes that he stayed under that truck, he might’ve lived. There might’ve been a chance for him," Placencia said. "They wasted time that could’ve been – it might’ve mattered."

Finally, an ambulance took him to Ocala Regional Medical Center before being airlifted to Shands. "They wasted time that could’ve been – it might’ve mattered."

Douglas Zazueta [Photo submitted by family]

Another thing the family said added insult to injury was the comments on social media, judging the situation with unverified information. The family said people posted things they heard from police scanners and wrote hurtful things online. They wanted the chance to share their own story.  

"That’s a kid. We’re already going through too much right now, but then we had to read that," said Placencia.

The Marion County School District said it could not speak with FOX 35 News about the incident because there could be future litigation associated with the crash, but did say in a statement, "Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with his family and with our employee driver. Their lives are forever changed."

"Our hearts go out to his family during this extremely difficult time," the Ocala Police Department said in a statement.