PICO RIVERA (CBSLA.com) — A community came together for a candlelight vigil Friday to remember two children and a young man who died in a head-on collision in Pico Rivera nearly 24 hours earlier.
The accident happened just before 9 p.m. Thursday in the 3500 block of San Gabriel River Parkway, near Rose Hills Road, as the victims were driving home from a junior high school graduation party.
Investigators said Efren Velasquez, 22, crossed the center divider into oncoming traffic. The impact was so strong that Velasquez and 12-year-olds Gilbert Enriquez and Braulio Duque were ejected from the car.
A woman in the front passenger seat and two other women in a Nissan Sentra were taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Police said speed was likely the cause of the crash.
A friend of Velasquez said he was not drinking and the kids had permission from their parents to get a ride home.
“We were always around the kids. That’s why they felt so comfortable asking for a ride home,” he told KCAL9’s Juan Fernandez.
Enriquez’s aunt said the children weren’t wearing seatbelts.
“They are…children that need your protection and they didn’t get it. They just did not get it. It’s heartbreaking,” said Janet Sim.
Elsie Ruiz, Enriquez’s godmother, said the entire family is devastated.
“It’s the first child, it’s the first grandchild. It’s something that you don’t want anyone to go through,” she said.