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Memorial honoring five killed in car crash keeps growing

September 30, 2013
  • A collage with photos of car crash victims, clockwise, from top left, Sugey Cuevas, Sameer Nevarez, Malak Hariri, Stephen Stoll and Sebastian Forero was placed at a memorial set up on San Fernando Road where it crosses under Golden State (5) Freeway on Monday, where the fatal incident occurred.
A collage with photos of car crash victims, clockwise,… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

A roadside memorial had grown on Monday to include hundreds of candles, bouquets of flowers and about a dozen posters covered with photographs and heart-felt notes memorializing the victims of the fatal car crash in Burbank on Saturday.

Friends and former classmates gathered in mourning at the scene, where the single-car crash claimed the lives of five young men and women, and left one injured.

PHOTOS: Memorial honoring five killed in Burbank car crash

While authorities have not confirmed their identities, the five who were killed were identified by friends visiting the memorial as Malak Hariri, Sebastian Forero, Stephen Stoll, Sugey Cuevas and Sameer Nevarez.

All of the victims attended Burbank schools, and all had graduated within the last five years.
A sixth passenger, an 18-year-old woman, was the sole survivor. She was being treated for non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

“The first day, I was in denial – I didn’t really let myself believe it,” said Oscar Gonzalez, a 2012 graduate of John Burroughs High School, who went to school with Forero, Cuevas and Nevarez, all of whom he described as joyous and inspiring.

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He said the news hit him hard on Sunday.

“I’m just praying for their families, for their souls, for the healing of everyone hurt,” Gonzalez said.

The initial police investigation indicated that the vehicle was traveling south on San Fernando Boulevard at a high speed and lost control near the Scott Road off-ramp. After slamming into a concrete pillar, the vehicle caught fire.

Katherine Laprell, a former Burroughs student who knew Nevarez and saw him just four days ago, said she’s still in shock by the news.

“People need to be more careful – I really hope this is a wake-up call for everybody,” Laprell said. “I’ve never had a tragic loss like this happen.”

Charred debris remained at the scene, where people gathered throughout the day, mostly in silence.

“We are walking among their ashes,” said Lourdes Coria, who said that her daughter played water polo with Hariri. “Maybe God needed more [souls] up there for people to know how precious life is.”

Two psychologists were sent to both Burbank and John Burroughs high schools Monday to offer support and counseling services to students and staff, and assist the school psychologists already stationed at each school.

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