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Classmates commemorate 2 after fatal crash near West High

Published February 17, 2017 12:37 pm

Investigation • Police are asking witnesses to the incident to come forward.
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MJ Powell stood with his schoolmates under cover of darkness Thursday night, red cups in their hands.

But this was no high school party in a Salt Lake City neighborhood. There was no music. No shouts of joy.

Only "tribute" and "respects" from teens who, just hours earlier, ate lunch a mile away from where two of their friends would die.

About 50 teens attended a vigil Thursday evening for two West High students who had been killed in a crash that morning in a head-on collision near downtown. Two others ­— another student and a pregnant woman ­— were seriously injured in the crash.

The crash happened at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday near 700 North 300 West, said Salt Lake City police Detective Cody Lougy.

A witness saw two northbound cars that appeared to be either racing or in a chase and were traveling in excess of 70 mph on 300 West, Lougy said.

One of the cars, a blue sedan with three teenage males inside, jumped a landscaped island and collided head-on with an SUV, Lougy said.

The 32-year-old woman driving the SUV is seven to eight months pregnant; she and her baby were listed in serious condition at a hospital, police said. The student driving the sedan also was in serious condition.

Police are looking for the other northbound vehicle — a gray car, make and model unknown — and are asking that the driver come forward. Investigators also requested that other witnesses to the crash contact the police department.

Thursday night's memorial began at West High and moved to the site of the crash for a candlelight vigil. Powell, a senior involved in student government at the school, organized the vigil.

"The love we have for one another, and the compassion as fellow human beings and fellow students, it's really good," Powell told The Salt Lake Tribune.

He said he hoped the people who were racing understood their partial responsibility for the crash, but he doesn't "want anybody to be angry, or seek revenge or any of that craziness. Just love each other and be genuinely good human beings."

The students who died in the crash had been best friends, said students at the vigil. Classmates spoke about how trusting, helpful and joyful the two were, as well as how close they had been; they both loved cars.

"In a lot of ways," Powell told the somber crowd, "I think that's why they were best friends. They were so much each other in a lot of ways."

Powell is organizing a second vigil, he said, to again start at West High and walk to the site of the crash.

West High sent a message to parents Thursday evening to let them know a crisis team, grief counselors and a quiet space would be available to students at the West High School library Friday.


Twitter: @tiffany_mf

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Pamela Manson contributed to this story.






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