DANBURY, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn community is in mourning Monday after a van packed with teenagers crashed on a Connecticut highway, killing two of them.
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Grief-stricken family and friends are trying to make sense of the loss of 16-year-old Eli Schonbron and 15-year-old Dani King, reports CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
The teens were killed early Monday morning on their way from Brooklyn to Waterbury, Conn. Yeshiva they attended. The doomed van was filled with friends from the same Flatbush community, with the driver a 22-year-old dorm counselor. Police said there’s no evidence of drugs, alcohol or any criminal activity, but the investigation is ongoing.
Both teens were buried within hours.
The mangled van they were riding in was evidence of the horrific impact. The windows were smashed and the sides of the vehicle were crushed.
Just after midnight, the van hold 11 passengers veered off Interstate 84 into the trees and flipped over several times, killing the boys instantly, police said.
Schonbron, a junior, and King, a sophomore, attended school at the Yeshiva, but had been home all week because power outages had forced the school to shut down.
Friends said they were outgoing, popular and played on the basketball team.
“Life of the party students, always very studious. They came here from New York looking for a higher education. Everyone’s just still shocked that this has happened,” the Yeshiva’s Charles Kirshner said.
“He was my closest friend. One of the nicest people I’ve ever known,” friend Philip Rosenberg said of Schonbron.
Schonbron’s uncle spoke to CBS 2’s John Slattery from the family home.
“He was very sweet, nice boy, heart of gold,” Moshe Gurwitz said.
A friend of King’s, Yuitzy Scharf, told CBS 2’s Kirstin Thorne, “It’s sad. He had so much potential. It’s hard to process, very hard to process.”
On Monday, students and teachers were bused to Brooklyn for the funerals.
“There’s no really words to comfort right now. I only feel, being a parent of teenagers, what they’re going through and may God help us and get us through this quickly,” Rabbi Yehuda Brecher said.