Five teens are dead and a dozen are injured after two separate car accidents in less than a week in Boone County. They happened about seven miles apart - both on Illinois Route 76.
Three crosses stand at IL 76 and Hunter Roads – one for each teenage girl who was killed in a car crash there Saturday night.
Seven miles down the road; two teenage girls sit at the exact spot where their friend, 17-year-old Dustin Dickason, was killed in an accident last Tuesday. "His smile could lift the world,” says Ariale Benford.
18-year-old Courtney Gallano Pearson was also killed in that crash; that makes a total of five dead in less than a week in two separate car accidents.
Boone County Sgt Phil Beu says in his 26 years on the job the past few days have been among the most tragic.
"It's a tragic thing to have any loss of life but when you get someone so young, it’s even more tragic," says Sgt. Beu.
Traffic on IL 76 has increased in the past few years because of development, but Sgt Beu doesn't believe wider lanes or more stop signs would have prevented these accidents.
"I think it all comes down to the drivers concentrating and paying attention to what they're doing when they're behind the wheel. Especially with young drivers who may be more prone to distractions.“
It's a lesson these girls say they've learned the hard way. But from now on - when they get in a car - they'll buckle up and always be alert.
"It does stink though that one of our friends had to die for us to realize it but it still taught us a really good lesson," says Mary Caruso.
A lesson, they say, that may one day save their own lives.
Both accidents are still under investigation. Three teens - Candace de la Ra, Liliana Dominguez, and Saira Flores - were killed in Saturday’s accident.