Updated 06/19/11 – 5:18 p.m.
PROSPECT HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — Friends and family members on Sunday were mourning the deaths of three teenagers killed in a car crash in Prospect Heights early Saturday. Police said the youths were in a stolen car.
As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, friends of the victims said the tragedy will change the way they drive.
Beside the tree where an out of control car came crashing to a halt, the teenage friends of the three who died there left flowers and candles on Sunday as they wondered why the fatal wreck happened.
“They were all loved kids from all the kids around. We all loved them,” friend Stephanie Hanns said.
Friends identified one of the dead girls as 15-year-old Elibeth Solis and another as 15-year-old Jessica Ferrera. Authorities said that 16-year-old Freddy Najera of Mount Prospect also died.
Police reported the three teens were in a stolen 2002 Honda Accord at 3 a.m. Saturday when it came sailing across the road, landing just feet from a nearby home.
“I been thinking about it all night. I haven’t slept,” Hanns said.
Homeowners Belen and Scott Nielsen say the memorial in front of their house has been steadily growing.
“We have a 15-year-old. I can’t even imagine what those families are going through. I hope they let God’s grace let them heal,” Belen Nielsen said.
The scene outside her home on Sunday included classmates from Prospect High School who barely knew the teens, but were searching for meaning in their death.
“I know on Facebook people are saying we should all start driving more careful,” classmate Silvia Mozdzen said.
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The wreck happened in the 100 block of Camp McDonald Road in an residential neighborhood about 75 yards from the Prospect Heights police station, which is not staffed overnight.
“It was right next door to us,” Prospect Heights police Cmdr. Eric Lundt said.
When calls came in from neighbors in the area, police rushed to the scene and found a gruesome sight.
A young woman driving the car had been decapitated and the three others were ejected from the 2002 Honda Accord, the commander said. The car involved had been stolen, Lundt said.
About 7 or 8 a.m. the man who owns the car “woke up” and called police to say his car had been stolen from Mount Prospect, Lundt said.
Police do not know who stole the car, and no one has been arrested for the theft.
Investigators have also determined the car was traveling at a high speed when the young woman driving it lost control, the commander said.
The car was initially on Elmhurst Road and turned onto eastbound Camp McDonald when it crashed for an unknown reason. Lundt said police were canvassing the area to find anyone who may have heard or seen the crash.
It was not known if they were wearing seat belts or just how fast the car was traveling on the 35-mph-speed-limit roadway, which was dry and not under construction at the time.
The commander said it was not known where the teens were going or what their relationship was, besides being acquaintances. Lundt said Prospect Heights police has never had any contact with the four teens.
Toxicology tests will be performed at the medical examiner’s office and should determine if drugs or alcohol were involved.
The wreck is being investigated by the Mount Prospect Accident Reconstruction unit and Prospect Heights police.
The only passenger to survive, friends said, was 18-year-old Danny Ascencio, and they’ve visited him in the hospital where he was recovering on Sunday. He had been released from the hospital by Monday morning.
“He was in the passenger seat but he was the only one with a seatbelt on,” friend Aimee Moyo said. “He’s really thankful. He’s glad he got a second chance.”
That seatbelt is what most likely saved his life. Prospect Heights police reported that his three friends died at the scene, two of them were thrown from the car.
It’s a second chance, but one that comes with many questions from authorities, including how the teens ended up in a stolen car.
Neighbors of the dead, who all have ties to the Boxwood subdivision in Prospect Heights, have been selling candy and taking collections to help pay for the funerals of the three teens.
(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)