Teens killed in wreck mourned at candlelight vigil

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Twenty-four hours after two teenage boys were killed in a horrific collision, more than 500 of their friends, classmates and community members gathered at their high school to mourn.

Donald Todd Austin and Brendan Daniel Parrish were on their way to a Coyotes game Monday night when they collided with a semi truck on Loop 303 at Olive Avenue.

The impact of the crash was so great that the car the boys were in was destroyed.

As word of the tragic accident spread, friends mobilized through Facebook and organized a vigil at Shadow Ridge High School, where Austin was a junior and Parrish a sophomore.

The vigil lasted for more than an hour as friends shared memories, read prayers and played music.

Mackenzie Eastman, who knew the boys through their involvement in the area youth group "Young Life," lit a candle and shared memories of the two friends.

"They were not just the kids you saw down the hall. They were the kids you remember, the kids you look back on and think, I remember that kid and he was important and he made a difference in my life," Eastman said. "It's not gonna be the same."

Tina Ivanic's son is a sophomore at Shadow Ridge. He knew the boys. She said she felt compelled to come to the vigil. "It just hit me, I had a pit in my stomach all day, I really feel for the families," Ivanic said.

The school is closed for spring break this week, but the principal said when it reopens Monday grief counselors will be on hand to help the students cope with the losses.

Both boys loved hockey and airsofting, a sport similar to paint ball.

Friends, who plan to hold a fundraiser for the teens' families on March 25 at an area paintball field, question the safety of the intersection the teens were killed in.

DPS spokesman Bart graves said “We’ve had collisions in that area -- fatal collisions -- but no more than any other place in the Valley," said Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves. Graves also said highways and streets don’t kill people, instead the lack of a driver’s skill does.

“We are usually pretty good about driving," said Kameron Clark, 16, who was friends with Austin and Parrish. "Todd was always good about red lights and rules of the road."

He said he's "numb" in the wake of the brutal wreck that killed the teens.

That crash remains under investigation.