FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Two teenagers were killed and one was severely injured after a crash that caused a vehicle to catch on fire in Fort Lauderdale.
The two teenagers had their whole lives ahead of them, and now their loved ones are left to mourn their lives after the tragedy.
The deceased victims have since been identified by police as Barrett Riley and Edgar Monserratt Martinez.
Fort Lauderdale Police and Fire Rescue responded to the scene of a single-vehicle collision along the 1300 block of Seabreeze Boulevard, at around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Police said the vehicle was traveling southbound when it drove off the road and crashed into a concrete wall. At this time the cause of the crash is unknown, but speed is believed to have been a factor.
According to officials, the vehicle was occupied by three 18-year-old males – all seniors at Pine Crest School, waiting to graduate in just two weeks.
Police said Riley was driving the vehicle at the time. Martinez along with another victim, Alexander Berry, were passengers.
Berry was transported to Broward Health Medical Center after being ejected from the backseat of the vehicle. He is expected to be OK.
Officials said friends of the victims followed behind the four-door Tesla Model S and watched as it caught on fire, trapping the driver and the passenger inside.
Pine Crest sent out a letter late Tuesday night to inform teachers, staff and parents about the incident. Grief counselors were also made available to students Wednesday morning.
The school allowed seniors to stay home on Wednesday, as well. Many of them instead gathered in a courtyard to remember their friends.
Several students later held a memorial for the victims, Wednesday evening.
“We just lit candles in memory of them and to honor their lives,” said student Christopher Martinez. “‘Cause we’re a community, so come together to help each other out in this time of need.”
A man who filmed the accident with his cellphone said the driver and a passenger couldn’t escape from the car that was engulfed in flames.
Neighbors said an officer on the scene tried to use a fire extinguisher, but it just wasn’t enough.
Larry Goshart was a witness in the area that saw the collision.
“It was a Tesla, so I didn’t hear a lot of engine noise. I just heard the breaks and then saw them hit the wall and the other wall. Burst into flames,” said Goshart. “People were standing in the middle of the street screaming obscenities out of frustration that they couldn’t get to the people in the car.”
Wendy Mascolo, a witness in the area, was out on a run before she ended up praying with the victims’ friends and families.
“I did speak to two of the boys who were friends of the people in the vehicle. They were in separate cars behind them and they saw the whole accident,” said Mascolo. “They were distraught. It broke my heart, it really did. I stayed on scene ’till the parents got here. I prayed with everybody. I didn’t know what else to do.”
Riley was expected to attend Purdue University in the fall.
“Barrett was the kind of student who exhibited empathy and knowledge, which made the classroom experience better for everyone,” said president of Pine Crest School Dana Markham.
Martinez was headed off to Babson College.
“Edgar had a love for business. In fact, he was so good at stocks and finance, he would often give investment advice to teachers,” Markham said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating this crash. The agency is investigating the lithium ion batteries used in the car.
“It’s absolutely senseless,” Mascolo said. “They were supposed to graduate high school next week. It breaks my heart what those kids that all go to that school are going to go through and what these parents – they got the worst call of their life and their lives are never going to be the same.”
Anyone who may have witnessed this crash or who has any video footage of this incident is encouraged to contact Traffic Homicide Investigator Paul Williams at 954-828-5755.
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