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Vigil held for teenager killed in Worcester SUV crash

“I’m 15. I do not want to bury my friends anymore.”

Mourners lit candles at a makeshift memorial for a 13-year-old girl who was killed in a car crash at 646 Main Street in Worcester. Matthew Healey/The Boston Globe

The Worcester community gathered Saturday to honor the 13-year-old girl who died in a July 23 car crash that injured four other teenagers.

Dozens of people gathered at a memorial created at the intersection where the crash took place to pay tribute to the fallen teen, who has not been identified by authorities or by her family. One of the other victims remains in a medically induced coma, The Boston Globe reported. 

The vigil was primarily attended by young teenagers facing an unprecedented loss. Latoya Lewis, who helped organize the gathering, told NBC Boston that she hopes the vigil shows them that they are not alone in their grief.

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“We are here for love, hope, and to remind them that we are here to support them during this difficult time,” she said.

15-year-old Yannalia Cossette addressed the crowd, stating that she was tired of seeing people die young, MassLive reported.

“I’m 15. I do not want to bury my friends anymore,” Cossette said.

Worcester Crash

The three-car crash occurred at 9:52 p.m., with the five teenagers in a SUV that police later discovered was stolen. The SUV, “driving erratically,” ran a red light on Main Street, striking a Honda Accord and Chevy Impala and pushing the cars into a street light pole. The car’s 13-year-old driver was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Vigil organizers highlighted Jayxavien Nunez, 20, who witnessed the crash and provided medical aid to the injured teenagers. 

“He checked on these youth, as a youth, he got out here, looked for pulses, tied a tourniquet on someone’s leg, that essentially saved this young man’s life,” event organizer Luvleigh Amanda told the crowd. “So I want you guys to just take a moment and let’s give some honor to this young man who’s a hero.”

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Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez attended the vigil.

“Whatever it takes, because you should never have to feel like this. You’re children, you’re supposed to be enjoying life,” Monárrez told the children in the crowd, according to the Globe.

Family members of the victims have questioned the Worcester Police Department’s explanation of the crash, referencing surveillance footage that depicts two officers turning their car around at the time of the accident. These relatives met with investigators privately July 28, the Globe reported. 

The Worcester police held a press conference July 27 to clear up “false narratives” about the officers’ actions. Police explained that the two officers in question were working on an assignment nearby to retrieve a cruiser for another officer that had been sent to the hospital. While the officers saw the SUV “driving erratically,” they decided not to pursue it, police said.

“They would not have gotten the cruiser had they known about the serious crash,” one officer said.

Erica M. Clay, the aunt of the teenager in critical condition and an attendee of the July 28 meeting, told the Globe that she does not understand how the officers did not know about the crash, as it caused a great deal of noise upon impact.

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“I’m a regular person. I don’t go against the police every day,” she said. “I just want to know what happened to these children and my nephew.”

While the families wait for answers, the Worcester community seeks to uplift its children so they do not face the same fate.

“At the end of the day, these are our kids, these are our babies, and I can never ever want to know what it is to feel like the moms who are hurting right now,” Lewis told the crowd. “We are solely here today to tell these children that they are loved.”

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