STOUGHTON, MASS. (WHDH) – Stoughton High School students returned to class Monday as they mourn the loss of four classmates who were killed in a car crash in East Bridgewater Saturday afternoon.
A makeshift memorial set up at the scene of the crash continued to grow Monday as officials gathered outside the Stoughton Town Hall for a moment of silence. Black and orange ribbon has been draped across the town in honor of the victims.
Christopher Desir, 17, of Brockton, Eric Sarblah, 17, of Stoughton, Nick Joyce, 16, of Stoughton, and David Bell, 17, of Stoughton, were killed in the 4 p.m. crash on West Street.
The 17-year-old driver of the car, whose name has not been released, is being treated at Boston Medical Center for injuries sustained in the crash. Their condition is unknown.
Susan Burns, a former EMT who lives next door to the crash scene, said she rushed over to the crumpled vehicle and frantically performed CPR on the victims in an effort to save their lives.
“It was quite horrific,” a heartbroken Burns said. “I went over to help and one of the boys had stopped breathing.”
Authorities are now working to determine what caused the crash. Witnesses say the car catapulted over a stone wall and bounced off the front porch of a home before slamming into a tree.
While addressing the media in front of the high school Sunday, Stoughton Superintendent Marguerite Rizzi confirmed all five teens were Stoughton High School students. Joyce and David were promising athletes on the football, basketball and track teams.
“I’ve played with these kids since I was eight years old so, just hearing about the events that happened, you know, kind of a part of me left with them,” said Matthew Hadley, a friend of the victims. “It’s just really hard right now.”
Calling the situation the “worst nightmare of any school administrator,” Rizzi opened the high school Sunday for any students, faculty and staff members who wanted to come together to grieve. The school opened as scheduled on Monday with grief counselors on hand, she said.
In a statement, Rizzi said, “There are no words to articulate the impact of this loss.”
“To our students, I will say this: This is a shock and a trauma for our entire community. It will not make sense because it does not make sense. For students, especially those who know the classmates involved in the crash, you will likely feel confused, angry, and sad, and sometimes all at the same time. You are not alone in your grief and you should not feel alone,” Rizzi said. “Know that the adults in our community will feel the same way.”
Bell’s loved ones gathered at his home Sunday, leaning on one another during the difficult time. His mother, Solange Bell, said he was all about family.
“He didn’t have anybody who hated him, he had people that loved him,” Solange said.
Sarblah’s loved ones gathered at his home as well. “Eric was a very kind person, disciplined, and he will be missed,” Columbus Okai, Sarblah’s uncle, said.
Authorities are looking into speed, weather conditions, distracted driving and impairment as possible factors in the crash. An investigation is ongoing.
A vigil was slated for Monday at 6:30 p.m. at St. James Parish.