BOCA RATON — There was no ultimate goodbye between the 2 finest mates, who had all however two lessons collectively within the seventh grade at Boca Raton Center Faculty.
Earlier than heading out to the mall, Charlie Makenian and Sebastian Rivas, each 13, piled in a automobile with a bigger group of mates than traditional.
As Charlie inched nearer to curfew, she requested to be taken residence, rising an increasing number of uncomfortable within the crowded automobile. However after she was dropped off, her mates referred to as and requested if she needed to hang around some time longer.
“No, my mother and father are going to be residence,” she informed them.
Nervous she would return to the crowded automobile, her two older sisters begged her to not sneak out of the home. Fairly fearful herself, Charlie took their recommendation.
Two hours later, at about 12:35 a.m. on Could 30, the candy boy she met at first of the seventh grade was in a two-car wreck that killed him, two different space youngsters and a middle-aged couple.
Behind the wheel of the automobile was an older buddy of Sebastian’s. Ramiro Gomez, an 18-year-old who went to Monarch Excessive Faculty in Coconut Creek, was accelerating down Camino Actual in western Boca Raton close to the intersection of Sanibel Drive. He was in a Hyundai Genesis too small to match seven different younger individuals ages 12 to 14.
Police stated Gomez misplaced management of the Hyundai, which flipped and landed on prime of a Mercedes C250 touring on Camino Actual in the wrong way. The six youths squeezed collectively in the again seat had been thrown from the automobile.
The crash claimed 5 victims. Within the Hyundai, Gomez, Sebastian and Brielle Snowden, a 13-year-old from one other Boca Raton faculty, had been killed. Within the Mercedes, Goran and Anka Zgonjanin, a married couple of their 50s from Boca Raton, additionally misplaced their lives.
For all those that escaped the crash, most of whom have left the hospital after being handled for critical accidents, Sebastian’s surprising loss of life has buried them in guilt and grief.
“It actually hurts us to know that he is not right here,” Charlie stated.
Distraught over the occasions of that early morning, mother and father rushed to embrace their youngsters. However their reduction turned to sorrow for individuals who died.
“I type of blacked out,” stated Charlie’s mom, Sue Makenian, 50. “I used to be hysterically crying. I used to be at my home. Charlie was at her dad’s home. We solely reside a mile and a half from one another, so I went proper over there. I assume I felt reduction that she was at residence nonetheless. However my coronary heart broke for the opposite households.”
Amid the shock that adopted the crash, Makenian caught her breath when she discovered Charlie had determined to not get again within the automobile.
“As mother and father, you attempt to instill in them the distinction between proper and flawed,” Makenian stated. “You do not at all times know in the event that they’re listening or paying consideration. Typically it is like, ‘OK Mother, I hear you. I hear you.’ I’m simply so grateful that one thing in her clicked at that second.”
Specialists say teenagers ought to assert themselves in terms of automobile security
Secure-driving advocates urge teenagers to claim themselves with their friends.
“It is necessary to know who you are getting within the car with,” stated Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for the American Car Affiliation. “For those who’re within the car with somebody who’s dashing, then speak to them about pulling over to a secure place or inform them you wish to go residence.
“I believe that oftentimes individuals know the tendencies of their mates, so if they’ll understand them as being harmful drivers, then they need to keep away from getting within the car with them altogether,” he stated.
Mother and father additionally ought to educate their youngsters to not fall into peer stress, different advocates stated.
“It’s necessary that they converse up once they don’t really feel comfy,” stated state Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, who survived a Boca Raton crash in February 1996 that additionally left 5 teenagers lifeless, certainly one of whom was her 14-year-old twin sister, Dori.
“They by no means know when one thing like that is going to occur. It might be the very last thing that they ever anticipate,” Slosberg stated.
In his absence, Charlie calls up fond recollections of Sebastian. The dark-haired, dark-eyed boy who made numerous TikTok movies along with her, who cried when he ate rooster wings that had been too spicy, who was a dependable shoulder to lean on for his mates.
“He was often known as the principle character in our buddy group,” Charlie stated. “If anyone was down or upset, he can be proper by our aspect, making every thing so significantly better.”
As Charlie confronts the loss of life of her finest buddy, her feelings have gone up and down. The 2 teenagers had been inseparable.
“She seems like she misplaced a bit of her as a result of her and Sebastian had been so shut,” Makenian stated. “She typically says, ‘I am by no means going to have the ability to see him once more. I am by no means going to hang around with him once more.’ Then in half-hour she might be laughing in any respect the TikTok movies they made collectively.”
On the crash web site, the place a number of of his mates have scribbled loving messages for Sebastian on a tree within the median of Camino Actual, Charlie typically gathers with a gaggle of as much as 20 teenagers. In between floods of tears and moments of silence, the kids giggle at a few of their favourite recollections of their misplaced buddy.
“We had been actually shut,” Charlie stated. “I used to be with him virtually daily. He was actually candy and type. All of us cherished him a lot.”