State police in Schuylkill County said speed and wet roads were factors in an early morning crash that killed three young people, including a high school student.
Investigators said two men and a 16-year-old girl died after the crash around 1:30 a.m. Saturday on a winding section of Route 61 near Frackville and the Schuylkill Mall.
Flowers now mark the scene of the early morning crash on Route 61 north.
Three people died after state police said the driver, Shawn Centeleghe, 19, of Friedensburg, was going too fast on the wet roadway. He was killed, along with Jason Engleman, 23, and a 16-year-old girl, both of Pottsville.
Another 16-year-old girl from New Philadelphia was injured, but survived.
Investigators said no one was wearing a seat belt.
“It’s just so sad. It’s terrible, so young, for anybody to have it happen to them. It’s just terrible, so young. It’s sad, really sad,” said Kenneth Frie of Pottsville.
State police said Centeleghe lost control around a curve and hit a guide rail, sending the car into the air where it hit a billboard. The car continued airborne where it flipped, struck a tree and landed on its roof.
Those who live in the area said the stretch of Route 61, in both directions, can be dangerous.
“Well it’s dangerous if you go too fast for the curves. People don’t know how to slow down I guess,” said Calvin Etherington of Pottsville.
“It’s been a lot busier, and a lot more speeding, and the water with the rain, it’s been a lot of accidents recently, the last couple of years,” added Frie.
“It’s pretty nasty, especially during the wintertime and anytime you have any type of bad weather, even if it’s just heavy rain or anything like that,” said Beth Dando of Mechanicsville. “It’s just so winding and you don’t realize how quickly things can happen.”
Officials with Pottsville Area high school said both 16-year-old girls were juniors at the school.
Grief counselors will be available beginning at 8 a.m. Monday and throughout the week, as necessary.
Some hope the tragedy will be a lesson for others.
“Most people, especially the young kids, they don’t pay attention to the speed limit. They think they’re invincible and they’re just going to go flying, and unfortunately, they’re not,” added Dando. “They had their whole life ahead of them, now it’s gone. In the blink of an eye, it’s gone.”
Route 61 was closed for about two and a half hours early Saturday morning while state police investigated the crash.
There is no word where the group may have been coming from or going.