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Originally published November 13, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Page modified November 13, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Vigil held for 3 killed in car crash on Whidbey

An 18-year-old woman was arrested after three passengers in the car she was driving died in a fiery car accident on Whidbey Island Friday night. Friends of the young men held a vigil Saturday, remembering their lives.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Family and friends are mourning the loss of three young men who died in a fiery crash on South Whidbey Island around midnight Friday.

The Washington State Patrol said an 18-year-old Langley woman was allegedly driving intoxicated Friday when the vehicle veered off the roadway, struck a tree and later exploded into a fireball.

She escaped with minor injuries and was booked into the Island County Jail for suspicion of vehicular homicide and a $150,000 bond.

State Patrol spokesman Keith Leary said the names of the three young men may not be released until Monday because the coroner's office needs to verify their identities using dental records. Though the three have not been officially identified, he said, their families have been notified.

The men are believed to be a 22-year-old from Freeland, a 20-year-old from Langley and a 19-year-old from Palmdale, Calif. All were trapped in the car and died in the fire.

On Saturday night, about 300 people attended a candlelight vigil at South Whidbey Island High School stadium, where the three had graduated.

As part of the two-hour vigil, a couple of students pleaded with other students to stop drinking irresponsibly, said Mike Berry, a youth pastor of Langley Alliance Church, who knew two of the young men.

"Students were challenging one another to make good decisions — to not drive drunk and to not get into cars with people who are drunk," said Berry, who attended the gathering.

The woman was driving a 2003 Chevy Malibu southbound on Wilkinson Road, one mile south of Langley, when she lost control of the vehicle and it hit a tree. A witness in another vehicle saw the accident, turned around and helped get the driver out of the vehicle.

But it was impossible to get the three passengers out as flames grew out of control.

Leary said troopers continue to investigate the crash, but believe alcohol and speed were factors.

The 20-year-old man from Langley had been working at Useless Bay Country Club on Whidbey Island since August as part of the greens crew and was taking classes at Shoreline Community College. He loved skateboarding and hoped to play baseball for the college, Berry said.

The young man had been part of the youth group at Langley Alliance Church for about four years and graduated from South Whidbey Island High School in 2009.

"He had a huge heart," Berry said. "He always greeted me with a smile and a hug."

Berry said the 19-year-old had moved to the area two years ago from California and had graduated from South Whidbey Island High School. He was part of a program called Young Marines, Berry said.

"He was very responsible with kids," Berry said. "He would give you his shirt off his back."

Berry said the pair were inseparable, even getting matching tattoos that stated "brothers making history." They started a T-shirt clothing company called Western Empire Clothing.

The 22-year-old man graduated from South Whidbey Island in 2007 and was a football star with a promising future in athletics.

Berry said the driver knew the young men through mutual friends and that the accident happened after they left a house party.

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