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Teenagers, 17 And 19, Killed In West Hempstead Crash

WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A luxury SUV driven by a teenager lost control rounding a curve in West Hempstead early Thursday morning. According to police, the vehicle slammed into a flatbed truck owned by a garden center that was parked overnight on a four-lane road.

Tragically, the SUV's two teenage passengers were killed instantly, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

Family members arrived from the morgue in tears.

"Child supposed to bury their parent, not the parent burying the child," said Dennis Caesar, one of the victim's uncle.

Police said 19-year-old Kurtis Caesar, known as "CJ," a graduate of Cambria Heights Academy in Queens, and his 17-year-old West Hempstead High School female friend were both passengers in the SUV, which lost control rounding a curve on Westminster Road and slammed into the rear of a parked nursery and florist truck just after 1 a.m. The 18-year-old driver survived.

Both of her teen passengers were declared dead at the scene.

"Very respectful young man and he had a lot friends, always willing to do for anybody," said Patrice Blake, Kurtis Caesar's aunt.

"I am actually his pastor. He was one of our favorite  young men of the church. He played the drums for the church," Pastor Joseph Ainsworth said.

Police said speed played a factor in the deadly crash, adding the SUV spun across four lanes of traffic on impact and personal items were scattered on the roadway.

"The driver of the vehicle, she is in a local hospital, where she is in critical but stable condition right now. There's no criminality at this time. It is an ongoing investigation," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.

Caesar's distraught aunt and a family friend of the 17-year-old girl who died came to the scene, along with the younger victim's West Hemsptead High classmates.

"Big heart. She was good with everybody. She was nice. She likes to make a conversation with everybody," one student said.

"Life can just switch up on you. That's why you have to have your eyes open,' student Aaron Benitez said.

"Left the world so early, had a bright future ahead of them," student Cindy Clare added.

Police collected surveillance video, and multiple business owners said where the crash happened is known as a dangerous section of road.

"They come off the Southern State Parkway and zoom down if they're late," locksmith John Plant said.

"We see the car crashes every day, over speed," baker Raul Argueta said.

Westminster Nursery and Garden Center owned the truck that was parked on the road overnight. It declined comment.

Schools are making counselors available to help with mental anguish and sharing advice on the dangers of late-night teenage driving.


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