Three Montgomery County high school students were injured, two of them critically, when the speeding car in which they were riding skidded out of control and slammed into a steel pole on Middlebrook Road in Germantown yesterday.

Police said Mikhail Barg, 17, was driving with two friends to a fast-food restaurant during their lunch break from Seneca Valley High School when he lost control of his red Ford Probe as he tried to pass two other cars filled with students.

Rescue workers extracted Barg and his passengers, Boris Parris, 14, and Dennis Shrewsberry Jr., 16, from the crumpled wreckage of the car.

"It just flew up in the air, twisted. It didn't hit the ground again until it hit the pole," said a 17-year-old student who was riding in one of the cars Barg tried to pass.

"I couldn't believe it," said James Keller, 18, whose car Barg had just passed. "His bumper stopped in front of my car, so I had to stop. It's just crazy. . . . I'll be thinking about this for a long time."

Barg was taken by ambulance to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he remained in critical condition last night with head and chest injuries and multiple broken bones. Parris was air-lifted to Children's Hospital, where he was in serious condition last night. Shrewsberry was treated at Suburban Hospital and released, hospital officials said.

Montgomery police are almost certain the accident was caused by speeding, spokeswoman Joyce Barrow said. Accident investigators found skid marks on the road where the car veered from the middle lane toward the side of the road near the southbound entrance of Interstate 270.

Police could not confirm yesterday when Barg received his driver's license. The car, Barrow said, was owned by Barg's father, whose name was not immediately available.

Friends said the youths, all from Germantown, were bound for a nearby McDonald's for lunch, a daily trip for many Seneca Valley students. The 1,500-student school, less than a mile from where the accident occurred, is among many in the county that allow students to leave campus for lunch, said Principal Wayne E. Whigham.

The eastbound lanes of Middlebrook Road were closed for several hours yesterday as police investigated the accident.

Word of yesterday's accident spread quickly at the school as students who witnessed it returned and told friends. Within an hour, Whigham informed the student body via intercom of the accident, and sent home a memo to parents saying school system counselors would be on hand today. Barg, the son of recent Russian immigrants, has been a student at the school since his freshman year and is enrolled in an English class for non-native speakers, Whigham said. Parris is a member of the junior varsity football team.

"When something like this happens, you're not looking in the yearbook to see how many organizations they were in. You're just worried that they'll be okay," Whigham said. "Everything else is a moot point."

CAPTION: Dennis Shrewsberry Jr., 16, was treated for his injuries and released.

CAPTION: Boris Parris, 14, was in critical condition last night.

CAPTION: Montgomery County police survey the scene of a crash in Germantown that left three Seneca Valley students injured. Police found skid marks on the road where the speeding car went out of control, a spokeswoman said.