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Lower Burrell Teen Found Dead In Car Hours Before Her High School Graduation

LOWER BURRELL (KDKA) -- It was a bittersweet commencement ceremony for the students who received their diplomas Thursday evening at Burrell High School in Westmoreland County.

After the ceremony in the school gym, the about-120 seniors walked outside and held a silent vigil around a flagpole in front of the school.

It was there where photos of 17-year-old Laura Hoover were posted.

Hoover was supposed to be graduating with her class, but she died suddenly hours earlier on Thursday morning.

Graduating senior Kayla Decker told KDKA-TV's Ralph Iannotti, "Laura she was full of energy. She was so beautiful. She hated attention, every time we told her she was beautiful, she'd look away. She didn't like any attention on her. She'd probably be upset right now with all this attention on her."

Hoover was found dead in the driver's seat of a car.

The car had drifted off a driveway and landed against a tree next door to the Watters Road home where she lived in Allegheny Township. Hoover was found dead around 3 a.m.

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Another classmate, Jenna Hiles, said, "Laura wouldn't want anyone to be upset tonight. She enjoyed life, and loved nature. She was our class hippie."

Hoover's autopsy was completed late Thursday, but the cause and manner of the teenager's death were not immediately known.

The results of toxicology tests won't be available for several weeks.

Another of Hoover's friends, Marissa Mazzotta, said, "She walked with us. She's here in our hearts, always watching."

Allegheny Township Police and the Westmoreland County Detectives Bureau are continuing their investigation.

However, police said there was no sign of foul play or violence in connection with Hoover's death.

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