COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Trayona Patton looked a the memorial on East Main Street for a little over an hour. She looked at the flowers, the teddy bear, read the messages on the dozen or so balloons and even checked out the car debris still lying on the grass.
“It just breaks my heart,” said Patton about the crash that killed five people. “It saddens me because his life got ended out of nowhere. And four children lost their lives as well.”
Patton's friend's son was killed in a car crash over the weekend she said. The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office told FOX 17 on Saturday that a Township police officer spotted a vehicle driving over 100 miles-per-hour on East Main Street. That deputy followed the vehicle for a half of a mile with lights and sirens activated but stopped because he couldn’t locate the car anymore. In minutes, the officer saw an “orange glow” in the distance.
“All of sudden we hear this big, just like a boom, like a big firework went off,” said neighbor John DenHartigh who was in bed at the time. “Then we looked out the window and saw the flames were going up 30 feet. You can see on those trees how high they went.”
DenHartigh pointed up at the charred leaves atop a few trees on East Main Street. He said that when he and his family saw the fire they there was nothing they could do to save the victims. But in minutes the street was filled with police officers and first responders tending to the scene.
“It hurt my soul,” said Joyce Carter. “Like I’m 19 years old. These kids [are] 17 and younger.”
The Sheriff’s Office have released the names of two of the victims: 15-year-old Marshawn Williams and 17-year-old Deztanee Cobb. They expect to release the rest later this week. Carter knows that one of them is her cousin.
“It just hurts my soul,” said Carter again during an interview across the street from the memorial. “All these kids, we losing them so quickly and right before school start.”
School begins Tuesday in Kalamazoo. However over the weekend and into Monday, teachers and classmates joined family and friends in paying respects to the victims at the memorial.
“Just be safe, be safe you know,” said Patton with tears in her eyes. “Be kids, you know, be teenagers. Enjoy your life.”