MANATEE — MANATEE — A horrific Christmas night crash at Rye Road and State Road 64 has claimed another life.
Eighteen-year-old Joshua Rogers, who attended Lakewood Ranch High School, died this afternoon at Blake Medical Center after a two-day fight for survival, said family members.
Fellow Mustang Brett Wagner, also 18 and a passenger in the truck that rolled over while Rogers was driving, died Sunday shortly after the accident.
“This is a double tragedy of the utmost magnitude. How can anyone be prepared for a loss like this?” said Margi Nanney, spokeswoman for the Manatee School District.
The pickup truck that Rogers and Wagner were riding in was hit from the side by a vehicle that violated the right of way at a stop sign at Rye Road and State Road 64 East, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The two teens were ejected from the truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which also reported that both young men were not buckled in their seats.
A third person in the truck, Wagner’s cousin Terron Sanders who was buckled in, survived the crash with minor injuries.
More than 300 are expected to attend a Celebration of Life service for 18-year-old Lakewood Ranch High School senior Brett Wagner, who died in a truck roll-over on Sunday night.
Rogers' family released a statement through Stephanie Petta of Blake Medical Center shortly after Josh's death:
"After a two day battle, Josh has lost his fight and left his loving family to be with his best friend Brett in Heaven. In yet another in a long list of unselfish acts, Josh is a registered organ donor and will be saving many lives in his final act of kindness.
"His mom, dad and brother want to thank the hundreds of friends and family who have sent flowers, cards and messages of love, support and prayers over the past few days. The family is requesting privacy to grieve at this time and will provide information on a special gathering to celebrate Josh’s life at a later date."
Wagner, who died at the scene on State Road 64 and Rye Road, will be remembered beginning noon Saturday, Dec. 31, at Myakka Family Worship Center, 33420 Singletary Road, Myakka City, Pastor Lynn Howell of the Worship Center confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
“Brett attended our youth groups several times,” Howell said. “I was amazed Monday night. We opened the doors of our church for a prayer vigil and more than 300 attended.”
A Wagner family member said late Tuesday. however, that a larger facility was being considered to handle the expected large crowd of mourners.
Wagner, who was a Mustang football player and wrestler, was also an organ donor.
He had recently learned that his cousin, Andy, had received a life-saving liver transplant and he quickly embraced the concept of giving what is most precious to help another, said his aunt, Lynda Wagner.
“As soon as Brett learned about Andy he elected organ transplant on his driver license,” said Wagner, who added that Wagner’s own organs were harvested after the crash.
Brett Wagner is survived by his father, Fred, mother, Debbie, older brother, Austin, sister, Nikki and many uncles, aunts and cousins.
Danielle Wildman, a close family friend, was one of the 300 who attended the prayer vigil for Wagner at the Worship Center on Monday and called it “beautiful.”
“It was standing room only,” Wildman said.
There will be a bonfire tonight in remembrance of the two friends at Myakka Family Worship Center, 33410 Singletary Road, said Howell.