Pleasant Hill students mourn the loss of 2 classmates following deadly crash

- Students and staff at a Pleasant Hill high school are grieving Monday for two female students who were killed in a crash early Sunday morning in unincorporated Contra Costa County, school administrators said.

The county coroner's office today identified the girls as Lauren Smith, 15, and Marlena Heim, 16. They were both from Martinez and attended College Park High School in Pleasant Hill.

Paul Gengler, the school's principal, said many are feeling their loss Monday.

"It's a difficult situation for the 2,000-plus students here," Gengler said. "To lose two of your fellow students in an unfortunate accident -- it's just traumatic."

Smith and Heim were passengers in a car that struck a tree shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday on Franklin Canyon Road just east of McHarry Ranch Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

CHP officials said the driver, a 16-year-old girl from Pleasant Hill, suffered major injuries but survived the crash.

She was driving about 60 mph when she may have fallen asleep and veered off the road, CHP officials said. Drugs or alcohol are not expected to be a factor in the crash, according to the CHP.

CHP officials said it appeared the teens were wearing seatbelts.

The injuries were apparently caused by the trajectory of the vehicle into the tree and the resulting impact forces, CHP officials said.

The CHP will continue to investigate the incident.

Monday morning, College Park High School and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District mobilized its staff of counselors and psychologists for the grieving process, Gengler said.

The staff will remain on hand as long as they are needed, he said.
 

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