Last week in Southern California, three Centennial High School Las Vegas students were killed while on their Spring Break vacation. The friends had traveled to the Huntington Beach area by car, and it is by car they met with their premature deaths at approximately 1:08 a.m. Thursday morning.
How The Tragic Crash Happened
The crash occurred on the Pacific Coast Highway after 27-year-old California resident Bani Duarte struck the Centennial High School students’ Toyota while it was stopped at an intersection.
Police reported that the Toyota was stopped at a traffic light when Duarte’s car rear-ended it and pushed it into the intersection, causing it to crash. When police arrived at the scene, they found the Toyota full of smoke. There was a fourth victim of the accident who had been inside the Toyota, but the individual was able to escape and survive.
Officers attempted to rescue the other victims when the car burst into flames.
An Immediate DUI Arrest Was Made
Duarte was immediately arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence causing injury. She was incarcerated at Huntington Beach Jail and is now released on bail. A DUI of this nature is a very severe crime.
Witness Accounts of the Crime
Alex Martinez, a 20-year-old Huntington Beach resident, told the LVRJ that he and some friends were coming home from the gym when they saw Duarte’s car driving crazily and hitting sidewalks, prior to the fatal incident.
Martinez said he called the police to report the driving, and then they followed her car until she stopped at a parking meter. At that point, Martinez told Duarte that her driving was erratic, to which Duarte replied, “Really? No way.” Martinez offered Duarte a ride home, but Duarte refused.
Martinez and his friends then watched Duarte drive away, speed up, and hit the Toyota filled with the Centennial High School students.
Remembering the Lives Lost
Authorities did not reveal the names of the victims, but the sister of one of the victims revealed the names of the killed students as Dylan Mack, Brooke Hawley, and Albert Rossi. The fourth student in the car, who survived, was not identified.
A vigil was held on Friday for the students; hundreds of teary-eyed friends, family members, and members of the Las Vegas community attended. Each of the victims had been a beloved student, athlete, and friend, and held a promising future.