GILROY, Calif. (KTVU) - Hundreds of people joined in a vigil outside Mount Madonna High School in Gilroy Friday night to remember three high school seniors who were killed in a car crash, just one month before their graduation.
Students came together, writing messages in chalk on the sidewalk and on signs. Some brought flowers and balloons to the school yard, exchanging hugs as they worked through the pain of life's toughest lesson.
Yesenia Pina and Yolanda Jimenez had both attended Mount Madonna and Gilroy High schools. Their friend Sara Williams attended Christopher High School. All three were 18 years old and had been childhood friends.
Many people wore the teenagers' favorite colors pink and black, and sang "Amazing Grace."
The teens were killed in a car crash about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday May 13th. They were riding in a car with two young men.
Anthony Imbronone, 23, was driving the 1997 Ford Mustang, which failed to turn at a curve and crashed off of Leavesley Road.
The three teens and the other passenger Joseph Vasquez, 24, were pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators say they found a container of alcohol, drugs, and drug paraphernalia in the car. The driver survived with major injuries.
"It's really had a major impact to have this many students die in such a short period of time," said Deborah Flores, Superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District.
"It's just a tragic decision that sadly just took their life away and it's just really tragic," said Brenda Garcia, who was friends with Yesenia and Sara.
What I'm going to remember about Yesenia is her big smile, her joking around a lot," said Aide Huidar, a friend.
"She was a good daughter, a good cousin, a good friend. She was just the best," said Yahayra Pina, Yesenia's cousin.
A sign at the vigil also read "RIP Joseph Vasquez" in memory of the young man killed.
"All three of them wanted to go to college and just you know, get a better future for them and their families," said Maria Vargas, a Mount Madonna High School junior.
Another vigil is being planned for Sunday at Gilroy's Christopher High School.
The district plans to present honorary degrees to the families of the three teens at graduation ceremonies in June.