ONTARIO (CBSLA.com) — An unlicensed teen driver was behind the wheel of a vehicle involved in a fiery crash that killed two people, officials said.
The accident happened around 10:33 p.m. Thursday on Grove Avenue in Ontario.
The Dodge Durango, driven by a 16-year-old boy, was traveling at a high rate of speed when it crossed over a raised center median and hit a concrete wall, flipped over and rammed into a traffic signal.
“After striking the wall, the vehicle overturned and struck a traffic signal poll and, at some point, did catch fire,” Ontario Police Department Det. Bill Russell said.
Ontario resident Valerie Zavala, 16, and another unidentified female were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the San Bernardino County Coroner.
The driver and an 18-year-old male passenger were transported to a local hospital in stable condition.
On Friday, KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold spoke to Zavala’s devastated mother, Alicia Zavala.
“We’re heartbroken without her,” said Zavala.
Saturday, the family had planned to celebrate Valerie’s Sweet 16.
“We had everything ready for the party. Never in my life did I imagine that I’m going to be preparing for a funeral,” said Alicia.
The girl’s uncle told Weingold that his niece snuck out of the house and took the car for a joyride without permission.
One of Zavala’s friends was just trying to make sense of the tragedy.
“My heart’s just racing,” said Gabriella Crick, “two close friends just passed away. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
Zavala’s friends planned a vigil in her memory at 7 p.m. Friday at the crash site.
One friend also started a fundraiser to help the family pay for funeral costs. For those interested in donating: Wells Fargo, c/o Elizabeth Jimenez, FBO Valerie Zavala Memorial Services Routing- 122000247 Checking- 8446973078.