Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
- Sgt. Oscar Chavez on a wreck that left one teen dead and two injured.
A Del Sol High School student was killed and two of his friends were injured when his SUV struck a block wall on a semi-rural street off Russell Road near Annie Oakley Drive, Metro Police said.
Corey Knight, 16, was driving his white Toyota SUV on Gateway Road near Rawhide Street at about 2 p.m. when he lost control on a pockmarked gravel portion on the wrong side of the road. The SUV crossed to the right side, jumped a sidewalk and ran headlong into a wall, lodging against a tree on the driver’s side, police and witnesses at the scene said.
Knight was declared dead at the scene. Two male passengers, one 16 and one 17, were taken to Sunrise Hospital and reported in serious condition, Metro Police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said.
Friends gathered Friday night for an impromptu memorial for Knight. They wept, embraced and left notes at the site of the crash. Candles were lit, including an array of flickering lights that spelled out Corey's name. His mother, Jennifer Knight, was among those at the memorial and spoke.
All three teens were wearing seatbelts, said Phil Bozeman, a neighbor who reached the vehicle before police arrived on the scene.
Police had received reports of a vehicle doing donuts or possibly racing another vehicle, but there were no eyewitnesses to the crash, Metro Sgt. Oscar Chavez said. He said the speed limit in the area is 25 mph, but the vehicle was traveling at a much higher speed.
Drugs or alcohol were not suspected, Chavez said.
Friends of Knight gathered at the crash scene as police removed the crumpled SUV and mourned their loss.
“I can’t believe he’s gone. He was one of my best guy friends,” said Vesta Clinton, 17, a Del Sol student. She said Knight had invited her to go with the three friends after school, but she had other plans.
“I’ve already cried all my tears out,” she said.
Knight was a musician. He played guitar, bass, piano and drums, his friends said.
He wrote his own material as well, said Rocky Rosen, a friend and bandmate.
“He did a lot of melodies and came up with riff patterns,” Rosen said. “He was really good at reading music.”
Knight had hooked up an amplifier to his car so that he could plug his guitar into the car and play it, Rosen said. They would make their own music instead of using the car radio, he said.
Renee Warden, Knight’s former girlfriend, said she had seen him just the day before the crash. He had been at her house composing music, Warden’s father, Greg, said.
“I don’t know what to think. I got a call saying Corey had been in an accident,” Renee Warden said. Once she saw Knight’s car, she knew it was him.
“Corey doesn’t let anyone else drive his car,” she said.
Greg Warden said Knight was a funny, polite teen who was confident around adults and always played with his younger sons when he visited the house.
“Corey was a great kid,” he said.
Neighbor Beverly Carollo, who called police after she heard the crash, said teens often speed up and down the narrow street, which has wide gravel shoulders in places.
It appeared from police markings of the vehicle’s path that Knight lost control after hitting a group of potholes in one of those gravel spots.
Jay Rosen, Rocky Rosen’s father, and Greg Warden said they hope the crash, as tragic as it is, sends a strong message to teen drivers.
“When I was a kid, I lost a friend this way,” Jay Rosen said. “The kids don’t realize you can lose control.”
Greg Warden said he would like to see Knight’s crumpled vehicle placed in front of Del Sol as a reminder to the students to be careful.
Jay Rosen said the crash sent a loud message to his son, also a new driver. “He grows up today,” the father said.