STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- What would have been an 18th birthday celebration for a former Bear Creek High School student is now a growing memorial after a fiery crash Tuesday in Stockton killed two teens and seriously injured another.
"He was just a great friend to me and it’s sad to see him go this way, this soon,” Darren Deguit, a friend of the passenger who was killed, told FOX40.
Dequit said knowing that two of his high school peers are now dead and a third is in the ICU is heartbreaking.
“He would always take care of me, like when I had no money to eat. We used to ride bikes together,” Deguit said. “He would front me some money to buy food.”
The family has identified the driver as 18-year-old Lorenzo Perez. They said Perez was on his way to help a friend in need.
California Highway Patrol investigators say the deadly crash was completely preventable.
“Witnesses have them driving very badly at high rates of speed, in and out of traffic,” Officer Ruben Jones said.
Jones told FOX40 several witnesses said Perez had been driving erratically Tuesday afternoon and that he should not have been behind the wheel in the first place.
“That the driver himself hadn’t taken the proper driving and safety courses to be a safe driver. He was unlicensed,” Jones said.
Investigators say Perez somehow lost control and crashed into a tree on Eight Mile Road.
His family said despite how he may have been driving, he was a good kid with a humble heart.
The fence where the crash happened is under repair. The tree is now lined with balloons, a birthday cake and candles, along with cherished treats and memories.
Perez's family added that he and his two passengers were very close. They had been friends since childhood.
The CHP says the crash is still under investigation.