Florida girl who played football, wanted to be a Marine is killed by suspected drunken driver

"She was a Warhawk. She was a Marine. She was our friend": Sophia Delott, 17, was on her bike when she was hit by a car.
Image: Sophia Delott was riding her bicycle when she was hit and killed by an impaired driver in Indian Rocks, Florida.
Sophia Delott was riding her bicycle when she was hit and killed by a car in Indian Rocks, Florida.Grace Macdonald

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By Hasley Pitman and David K. Li

A 17-year-old girl who played football and aspired to enlist with the Marines was killed by a suspected drunken driver, Florida authorities said Tuesday.

Sophia Delott was riding her bicycle in the bike lane on the Indian Rocks Causeway Bridge, about 20 miles west of St. Petersburg, at 10:30 p.m. on Friday. She was struck by a 2014 BMW 320i driven by Neil Singhal, 69, according to a statement by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department.

Delott's bicycle did have front and rear lights.

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"Witnesses say Singhal’s vehicle veered into the bicycle lane and struck Delott, ejecting her from the bicycle," according to the sheriff. "Delott sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital, where she was later pronounced deceased."

Singhal was not injured.

"Investigators say impairment was a factor in the crash," the sheriff said of Singhal, who was booked on suspicion of DUI manslaughter.

Delott was the only girl on the Seminole High School football team. This fall would have been her senior season.

Coach Chris Miller said Delott wanted to be treated like any other player, and worked hard at the sport.

"She talked about why she wanted to play football. It had nothing to do with her being female," Miller told NBC affiliate WFLA. "She would go out on the football field and throw the ball around and that's where she felt like home. She felt comfortable. She felt like herself. So she just wanted to play."

Teammates turned Delott's locker into a memorial, with her No. 22 jersey, flowers and football cleats.

Delott played safety on the team and planned to enlist in the Marines.

"Our Sophie was taken from us last night by a drunk driver," according to a statement from the schools' football team. "She was a Warhawk. She was a Marine. She was our friend."