Fiery wreck kills three teens with promising futures

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The three students touched the lives of countless others, even in their rural community

The memorial beside a rural Brazoria County road began with a dozen roses... and grew. By afternoon, it expanded into an arrangement of teddy bears, t-shirts signed by classmates, balloons, and a bouquet of lilies tied to a utility pole.

It was the homage to three Manvel High School students killed just one day ago when the car that was carrying them sped out of control, crashing into a concrete culvert, then bursting into flames.

Thursday, the school district released the names of the three seniors who died:

Sara Silvas, 17, daughter of the school's dual credit advisor, Monica Silvas. Sara was on the school's varsity softball team and planned to attend UT San Antonio.

Zori Petrova, 17, was the class president, on the swim, tennis and academic decathlon teams. She had recently been accepted to attend Texas A&M.

Josh Rodriguez, 18, played football and soccer for the school. He planned to attend U of H with a major in engineering.

The three were friends, popular, all with a bright future.

The collision happened early Wednesday afternoon, on a road known as a shortcut to avoid traffic in getting to the school.

Witnesses say Rodriguez was driving. Investigators are examining whether extreme speed could have been a factor in the crash.

Thursday, though, was about simply adjusting to life without three of the most promising students.

Friends and family gathered at the crash site, some in quiet contemplation, and others in tears.

Jonathon Gonzales knew them all. "I lost three of my best friends in one day," he said, staring at the ditch.

Among the momentos left were Dallas Cowboys t-shirts. "That was for Josh," one young woman said.
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