A teen, 17, died in this crash Sunday night. (Photo courtesy of Manny Solano)
WATSONVILLE — A former Watsonville teen was killed Sunday night after the vehicle he was in hit a tree on Green Valley Road, the Watsonville Police Department said.
The teen, 17, was reportedly in the rear seat and did not appear to be wearing a seatbelt, police said.
The Register-Pajaronian is not naming the youth because police have not officially released his name.
The vehicle, a white 1998 Honda Civic, was traveling east on Green Valley Road approximately 8:46 p.m. when the driver veered to the left for unknown reasons, hit the sidewalk just east of Magnolia Drive and then cartwheeled and crashed into a sycamore tree standing in a deep ravine.
Glass embedded in the tree indicated the Honda hit the tree approximately eight feet above the ground.
Police investigating the scene Monday afternoon said they took a blood sample and toxicology results are impending.
Watsonville traffic officer Lee Katich said that alcohol did not appear to be involved.
Javier Vargas, who has lived in the Magnolia Drive neighborhood for about eight years, said he called 9-1-1 after he heard the crash.
“It sounded terrible,” he said. “It sounded like an earthquake.”
The youth was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver and a passenger suffered non-life threatening injuries and were transported to Bay Area hospitals.
The teen attended Watsonville High School and then Renaissance High School, which he left in the fall, according to principal Artemisa Cortez.
After that he was enrolled through the Santa Cruz County Office of Education through Juvenile Hall, which he left in April.
It was unclear Monday whether he was attending school at the time of the crash. According to his Facebook page, the young man was a South Lake Tahoe resident.
He was the third student from Renaissance to die in a car crash in two years, Pajaro Valley Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Murry Schekman said.
Cynthia Madrigal crashed on san Andreas Road near the school on April 13 and Alejandra Alcaraz, 19, a 2011 graduate, was killed ten days later on Highway 156 Holland Road.
“I’m horrified again at the sad situation coming out of Renaissance High,” Schekman said. “We’re thankful the one of the students is able to come home, and we send our heartfelt sympathies to the family of the young man who was killed.”
More than a dozen votive candles burned in a makeshift memorial at the site Monday morning, which sat alongside a bouquet of red roses, red carnations and white chrysanthemums. Several people stopped by to look at the crash site, where large branches had been cut to allow the car to be towed away.
Green Valley Road was closed to traffic for several hours during the investigation. The collision is still under investigation, and police have not yet released the name of the victim.
According to Schekman, the passenger who survived is a Renaissance High School student, while the teen that was killed attended the school in the past.
Cortez said the teen left the school in February to attend a different school.
Cortez said she heard about the crash on the morning news.
“I was hoping it wasn’t one of ours because we’ve dealt with so much tragedy,” she said.
Cortez said grief counselors were at the school to help the students Monday morning.
“It’s one of those things you never expect to deal with,” she said.
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