CLARKSBURG, Md. - Three students were killed in a car accident in Montgomery County just hours before their high school was set to hold its end of the year graduation ceremony.
Officials say the teens were returning from a pre-graduation gathering on the evening of the accident. Their vehicle, a 1989 Ford F-250, was heading South in the 25300 block of Burnt Hill Road around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when it slammed into a tree.
Officers say the driver, identified as 17-year-old Jacob Tyler Dennis, and a passenger, identified as 18-year-old Patrick Andrew Shifflett died at the scene. A third passenger, identified as 17-year-old Cary Mauri'ce Greene, died a short time later at a nearby hospital.
All three victims were Clarksburg High School juniors. The deadly accident happened just hours before the school was scheduled hold its end of the year graduation ceremony Wednesday during a 10 a.m. ceremony.
"They were just taken too soon. They were just great amazing people," Ryan Dillingham, a Clarkburgh H.S. Student told FOX 5.
Clarksburg H.S. Principle Steve Whiting has known all three victims since they were 11-years-old, he says the students and families are grief stricken over the loss of the highly regarded students.
"We as a community band together, we come together at times like this and we make sure that we take care of each other," Whiting explained.
Montgomery County Police say according to the initial investigation, alcohol most likely was NOT a factor. Speeding and inexperience of the driver could be factors. The driver, Jacob, had a provisional license at the time of the crash.
Officials tell FOX 5 the results from toxicology tests should be available in two weeks. Although they stress that speeding appears to be the cause of this horrible accident.
Sadly, this same school suffered a death earlier this school year when a student was struck and killed by a freight train.