Five teenage boys huddled in a garage Wednesday afternoon and talked about how gym class would never be the same, how a familiar walk home felt strange and how a friendship bracelet that hadn’t been taken off for months was now even more special.
Their friend, Kendra Kaeleen Tucker, was gone, and their world had changed.
Tucker, 15, a freshman at Battlefield High School, was one of five teenagers in a 2005 Dodge Magnum that hit a deer and then a tree at about midnight Wednesday on a Haymarket road. The car, driven by an 18-year-old boy from Gainesville, was speeding west on Logmill Road, just west of James Madison Highway, when the crash occurred, Prince William police said.
Four people — the driver, a 17-year-old boy from Gainesville, a 15-year-old girl from Haymarket and a 14-year-old girl from Gainesville — were flown to a hospital with critical injuries.
Tucker was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said that speed was a factor in the crash and that none of the teenagers was wearing a seat belt. As of Wednesday, the driver was in stable condition; the 17-year-old had been treated and released; and the teenage girls were in critical condition, with the 15-year-old facing life-threatening injuries. Authorities did not provide the names of the injured.
On Wednesday, a large gash in a tree was the only sign that something horrific had happened on Logmill Road, a hilly stretch of street that passes fields of grazing horses. The wreckage was gone. The police roadblock had been removed.
But the spring break accident was another reminder of the dangers teens face as they take to the roads. Students only had to check their Facebook or Twitter accounts to learn about the crash, which occurred on the same road wheretwo other Battlefield students were killed in August. A 15-year-old and an 18-year-old, both of Haymarket, were killed after their car spun out of control and was struck by another vehicle.
Darion Romeo, 15, said he woke up to his brother’s telling him about the crash, and within five minutes was heading to Tucker’s house, panicked. He said he had spent every day with her this week while they were off from school.
“She was like my little sister,” Romeo said. On his wrist he wears a woven bracelet that she made for him toward the beginning of the school year and that he hasn’t taken off since. “You know those people that when they’re around, everything is okay? She’s just the person who made everything feel all right.”
Brandon Eanes, who had been in gym class with Tucker, said the two of them had gone to see “Hairspray” at the high school Friday night. But they didn’t watch the play; they talked the whole time.
“She was just naturally happy,” he said. “She was nice to everybody. She could never say anything bad about anybody.”
“No matter who they are,” Romeo said.
In the garage, Romeo and Eanes, along with three other Battlefield freshmen, swapped stories about their friend: how she was unique and didn’t follow a crowd, how she was quick with a joke, how she could keep a secret.
“This is the first day I cried in a long time,” Romeo said. The hardest part, he said, was walking home from her house. “You just remember every time you walked that exact same path with her.”
“Gym will not be the same,” Eanes said.
“It’s never going to be the same,” Carlos Corrales, 15, said.
School is closed for spring break this week, but Ken Blackstone, communications director for Prince William County Schools, said grief counselors will be on hand at the high school on Saturday from 12 to 2 p.m. and when classes resume Monday.