Sophia Delott, a 17-year-old Florida football star headed for the U.S. Marines, was reportedly killed by a drunk driver over the weekend. Sophie's passing set her whole community to mourning, and spurred a fresh wave of warnings about the dangers of drunk driving.
Sophie was a beloved member of her community in Indian Rocks, Florida, where she was the only female player on her high school football team. The young athlete intended on enlisting in the U.S. Military's elite marine corps, and no one doubted that she would achieve her dream before her passing over the weekend.
Seminole High School head football coach Chris Miller wrote an impassioned tribute to Sophie on Facebook on Saturday morning. He claimed that she was struck by a drunk driver, though so far this remains an allegation until the driver is tried in court.
"It is with an extremely heavy heart and incredible sadness that I write this post," Miller wrote. "Last night, one of our own was taken from us by a drunk driver. Sophie was a Warhawk through and through. She was a Marine. Most of all, she was our family."
Local police told Fox 13 that Sophie was riding her bike in a designated lane when she was hit by a car at around 10:30 p.m. She was reportedly crossing a causeway bridge when a BMW swerved into the bike lane, sending her flying off.
Police identified the driver as Neil Singhal. They reportedly found an open bottle of vodka in his vehicle, and noted that he appeared to be impaired at the scene of the crash. Singhal was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and DUI manslaughter. He is currently being held on a $200,000 bond.
Sophie's teammates and coach spoke to Fox 13 about how much she inspired them all. One of her peers, Bruno Boyens, said that Sophie's influence echoed through the whole football program.
"She just meant so much to us and this whole football program. She brought out the orange and green like no one else could," he said.
"She asked not to be treated differently, so we didn't treat her differently," added Coach Miller. "She quietly earned the respect of everyone on the team."
Sophie was so intent on a military career that she was already working with recruiter Sgt. Paul Dingess, who spoke to reporters as well.