FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Friends and family gathered in Fresno to remember the life of a 15-year-old girl who was killed in a horrific crash early Monday morning.
Broken glass and tire tracks mark the spot where seven young lives were changed forever.
“This is just an absolute tragedy,” said Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley.
Fresno police say around one in the morning, a Honda Civic packed with seven teenagers, ages 15-17, crashed into a tree on Barstow Avenue near First Street.
When officers arrived, five of them were trapped in the back seat, including the youngest, 15-year-old Lilyana Romero, who died at the scene. Two others were seriously hurt in the crash.
“One of them has a spinal injury and are paralyzed from the waist down and the other is in critical condition with brain bleed,” explained Dooley.
Police say two teenage boys ran from the crash, including the 17-year-old driver, who was later arrested, suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, vehicle manslaughter, and fleeing the scene.
“It’s a nightmare I’m trying to wake up from, I’m not waking up from,” said Dalia Romero, Lilyana’s mother.
A parent’s worst nightmare is now Dalia’s reality. She says she let her daughter sleep over at a friend’s house since Fresno Unified had Monday off. Dalia says her daughter was supposed to call if they went anywhere.
“It’s unreal, I’m still waiting for her phone call to pick her up,” Dalia said.
At a vigil Monday night, friends and family described Lily as having a bright future.
They say she wanted to be a veterinarian and was excited to get her driver’s license in just a week.
Her sister Juliet remembers the special bond she shared with her siblings.
“We used to be called the three musketeers, her, me, and my brother until the little one came along, so it’s weird to think she isn’t here anymore so we aren’t the three musketeers,” said Juliet.
As the family grapples with the sudden loss, Dalia says she still wants answers and accountability
“You know, I think Lily is here with us, she is watching us, and I know she wishes she wasn’t a part of this, and it was a different situation,” Dalia said.