A terrifying and heartbreaking car crash in Stockton that left a teen driver dead and wounded 5 other passengers has left a family with the struggle of raising enough money for funeral expenses.
One of the injured teens, Nate Soares, was airlifted to the UC Davis Medical Center and has since been upgraded from critical to stable condition.
Meanwhile, most of the other teens have since been released from Stockton area hospitals, and one of those survivors broke his silence on Saturday.
“We were going about 30, 35 miles over the speed limit,” said Will Ratliff, who was in the car during the crash.
Ratliff, 14, was one of six teens inside the car. After the group left a tire store, he says the driver, Dylan Chandler, 15, started speeding up without warning.
“He didn’t say nothing,” said Ratliff. “He just started going in both lanes and he swerved too hard and couldn’t control it.”
The car left the road and wrapped around several trees. In the aftermath, Ratliff said he could feel pain in his leg, but he knew he had to get some of the other passengers out.
“The girl that was sitting next to me was the only other person who was conscious,” he said. “I helped her out of the car. And I tried to help another girl out of the car, the only one I had seen.”
On Saturday, friends of Chandler’s held a car wash to help raise money to help his family with funeral expenses.
While Chandler’s father helped with the car wash, he still cannot understand why his son is gone.
“Had the rest of his life to live. He was just a kid,” said Aaron Chandler, the victim’s father.
The California Highway Patrol says Chandler did not have his driver’s license and that he took the car without his parents’ permission. Investigators believe speed was a factor in this crash, and Ratliff says no one was wearing a seat belt.
“If kids learn anything, don’t get in a car with people who don’t have a license,” said Will’s mother Claudia Ratliff. “And if somebody is driving crazy, say something.”
That’s a lesson Will Ratliff had to learn the hard way.
“Not even going to get in the car with anyone anymore,” Ratliff concluded.