Loved ones honor SWFL Navy airman killed in crash helping others

The family of 21-year-old Trevor Smith gathered for a candlelight vigil Thursday night, a day after he was killed while trying to help others on I-75 in Charlotte County.

Smith, a Navy airman from Port Charlotte, pulled over on southbound I-75 Wednesday evening when two people in a car got into a crash with a driver in a semi-truck.

Smith got out of his car to help those involved in the crash. While he was working to help others, an oncoming pickup truck went off the roadway and hit and killed him as well as hitting the vehicles involved in the original crash.

Loved ones gathered at Charlotte High School, Smith’s alma mater, where he was incredibly missed.

His father told us he never imagined he’d have to bury one of his children, but said he was thankful for the community’s support.

One of Smith’s former instructors said he was always selfless and always willing to go above and beyond to help others.

“A lot of people would have kept driving or whatever, but that just wasn’t him,” said Chief Scott Williams, a naval science instructor. “I’ve already heard from at least two dozen ex-cadets that are long gone from Charlotte High School who are just in shock.”

Williams said, whether it was volunteering in the community, helping other cadets or risking his life for the people in the crash that took his life, Smith was always putting others first.

“A very selfless young man. I mean, he understood the whole thing about putting, you know, some things that are bigger than yourself above your own priorities from time to time,” Williams said.

Dozens of friends and family members gathered for Smith’s celebration of life. They released sky lanterns and tried comforting one another.

A close friend talked about how Smith was always selfless from a young age.

“We’d go down to the baseball fields, and we didn’t have gloves or bats or anything, and he would bring his own and be willing to share,” David Yanni said.

Yanni says he already misses his friend, Trevor Smith, someone he says always showed his true character.

“He, obviously, just went to help out in any way that he can when he saw the opportunity,” Yanni said.

Loved ones will try to move forward while missing a bright spot in their lives.

“It’s hard when you see these young men and women, you know, with their whole lives in front of them not get to live those lives out,” Williams said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Williams told us Smith stopped by the school about a year ago, and he caught up with him at that time. He said Smith was very proud of making it through the air crew program and being in the Navy Reserve.

Williams plans to reach out to the family soon to see how he and current and former cadets can help them during this time.

After talking to people close to Trevor Smith and reading the social media tributes to him, it’s clear he lived a life of service.

Smith is remembered as someone who always had a smile on his face.

Lt. Greg Bueno with Florida Highway Patrol did not know Smith, but he told us he feels his loss.

“You have those people that wouldn’t think twice, and then you have those who super care and want to help people,” Bueno said.

Prior to the vigil, Smith’s father told us he was not ready to talk about his son’s death, but off camera, he told us how his son cared for his family and cared for his friends, especially his girlfriend.

All of them shared their pain and grief and disbelief on Facebook prior to the gathering in Smith’s honor.

Smith cared for the United States of America, serving as a Navy airman, and he cared for strangers Wednesday night.

“We want our roadways to be safe, and we want people to make it to their destinations safely because, you know, there’s a family that’s hurting out there today because somebody was trying to do a good deed,” Bueno said.

Bueno says 3,000 people die on Florida highways every year. Some of them are good Samaritans like Trevor Smith, who get out of their cars to try to help people involved in a crash.

The two people he tried to help are in the hospital with serious injuries Thursday.

FHP has not determined if the driver of the pickup truck that hit and killed Trevor Smith will face charges.

Bueno told us this tragedy is another reminder of why everyone must be focused on the road.

“It affects the immediate family. It affects the network of friends. It affects their workplace. It affects the community that this person was associated with and loved,” Bueno said.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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