DAMASCUS, Md. - The Clarksburg High School community is heartbroken after three students were killed in a car crash. The teenagers were remembered at an emotional memorial at a church Wednesday night less than 24 hours after the accident.
Police said the driver, Jacob Tyler Dennis, 17, along with passengers Patrick Andrew Shifflett, 18, and Cary Mauri'ce Greene, 17, were leaving a graduation party when the truck they were traveling in crashed into a tree on Burnt Hill Road.
Dennis and Shifflett both died at the scene. Greene died at Suburban Hospital.
Family and friends are devastated by the loss of the three young men who were junior students at the school. They were part of a very close knit group of friends. Two of them played football for their high school.
“I'm at a loss for words because you never want to lose a son,” a heartbroken Charley Dennis told the crowd.
Amidst the sobs, one mother found so much pride in the way her son lived his life that she refused to cry.
“I will survive this because I know that this is God’s plan for him,” said Lily Shifflett. “It’s not the plan I wanted. He wanted to play Division I football. He wanted to be a good community member. He wanted to be a physical therapist.”
Before nightfall, so many people were coming to pay respects at the site where the teenagers crashed, police set up a command unit to direct them.
The deaths were heavy on the hearts and minds of senior students during Clarksburg’s commencement ceremony held Wednesday morning.
At Difference Makers Church in Damascus where the victims all attended summer camp, hundreds of friends and classmates gathered to find solace in one another in in prayer while lighting candles and sharing tear-filled embraces.
“Each and every one of them had a great life filled with excitement and adventure,” said another speaker at the memorial. “It’s hard but we'll get through it together.”
Friends said Dennis was incredibly proud of the work he had done on his truck – a 1989 Ford F-250. The boys were in it heading south on Burnt Hill Road after meeting up with friends late Tuesday night. But the truck went off a curve on the windy, unlit road and slammed into a tree.
According to the initial investigation, Montgomery County police said alcohol was most likely not a factor while speeding and inexperience of the driver could be factors.
Dennis only had a provisional license at the time of the crash.