BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4)– A car filled with teenagers from Prairie View High School in Brighton crashed on Tuesday, killing one of the students. Police are investigating whether the teen driver was breaking the law.
The one vehicle rollover happened just before noon Tuesday near 144th Avenue and Highway 85 in Brighton.
The students were likely on a lunch break when it happened.
Police said at about 11:55 a.m. Tuesday, a red Toyota sedan occupied by the four students was traveling southbound on Highway 85 near 144th Ave. That’s when police believe the driver changed lanes to overtake another southbound vehicle.
After passing the other vehicle, the driver of the Toyota appeared to lose control as he moved back into his original lane, causing the car to roll multiple times and come to rest in the highway median.
Dominique Hernandez, 16, was killed in the crash. Her family remembers Hernandez as living life to the fullest.
“She was a very happy person. She was the life of the party all the time. She was happy,” said Hernandez’s cousin Amanda Lucero.
Lucero and other family members visited the accident scene to build a memorial and say goodbye.
“Dominique we love you. We miss you and you will always be in our hearts. Always,” said Hernandez’s aunt Elaine Valdez.
“I love you very much,” said Lucero. “I miss you very much.”
It was tough news for students returning from their lunch break.
“I walked into class and we had some staff member come in and tell us about the tragedy and we just sat in silence for the rest of the class period,” said one Prairie View High School student.
“It’s hard to hear, like, it could have been anyone in that car,” said Prairie View High School student Nichelle Rowse.
Hernandez was a passenger and one of four teenagers inside the car when it rolled over.
“I think kids just need to start being more careful. They’re doing searches in their cars now for everyone so there is not too many people in the car,” said Prairie View High School student Steven Cunningham.
Police in Brighton said it has been a tough time for students at the high school. This is the second student killed in a car crash this year.
“There was an unrelated traffic death of another Prairie View alumni earlier this year. That’s the school, just like the rest of the community, very hit hard by it,” said Brighton Police spokesman John Bradley.
Since Hernandez’s death, some students have concerns about driving with so many other teens in their cars.
“I think personally that no one should leave for lunch,” said Prairie View High School student Savannah Froese-Valdez. “I’ve never left for lunch. Just because I care about my car. I care about myself. I don’t want to endanger people’s lives.”