Three teenagers were killed Sunday night and one is in critical condition following a single-car crash outside Wake Forest, according to the state Highway Patrol.
Excessive speed is suspected in the crash, which happened about 8:30 p.m., on Old Pearce Road near Zebulon Road in an unincorporated part of Wake County, highway patrol Sgt. Jorge Brewer said today.
All four teens were students at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School.
"They were just great kids, the kind of kids you want hanging around your kids," said Jeff Pethel, minister of youth and education at Rolesville Baptist Church, where all four young men had been Sunday night just before the accident happened.
The driver, identified as Austin Leonard Flowers, 16, of Wake Forest, was traveling north on Old Pearce Road in a 2011 Dodge Challenger when the vehicle crossed the center line, overturned and struck a tree, the patrol said.
Flowers died in the crash, along with Matthew Edmund Speight, 17, of Raleigh and Lane Anthony Meyer, 16, of Wake Forest. Meyer was the front-seat passenger and Speight was in the backseat.
A third passenger, Brenden Pearce, 16, of Wake Forest, was taken to WakeMed where he is in critical but stable condition.
Pearce underwent surgery for a broken leg early this morning, and doctors are optimistic about his chances for recovery, said Randy C. Bridges, pastor at Rolesville Baptist Church.
David Speight, Matt's father, spoke to an informal gathering of many of the boys' friends at the church Monday afternoon.
"He talked about how blessed he was that Matt was so happy and how much he loved life," said Kelly Pompi, whose son attends the same high school. Speight talked about how Matt was looking forward to graduating on Friday, which also would have been his 18th birthday. He wanted to go to Wake Tech, and hoped to play baseball for the school team.
"God had other plans," Speight told the group.
Troopers said all the teens were wearing seat belts.
Hundreds of people were expected to attend a candlelight vigil at the high school football field Monday evening in honor of the boys and in support of their families.