Crash survivor: I was only one wearing seatbelt

June 20, 2011 2:49:04 PM PDT
Danny Ascencio, 17, walked away from a car crash that killed three of his friends early Saturday morning in Prospect Heights.

"Everybody kept telling me, 'there was an angel with you that night, there's no way you could have survived that crash,'" Ascencio said.

Ascencio was released from the hospital Sunday, the day after the car he and his friends were riding in crashed into a mailbox and two trees in northwest suburban Prospect Heights. He has only scratches and bruises.

Everyone else in the car -- Elibeth Solis, 16; Freddy Najera, 16; and Jessica Ferrer, 15 -- was killed.

The four teens were in a stolen 2002 Honda. Ascencio said the group was drinking but said he did not know the car, driven by Solis, was stolen until they were speeding down Camp McDonald Road. He said that's where he got a bad feeling.

"I told them to put on their seatbelts just in case, you never know if anything, just put on your seatbelts, but they didn't listen to me so I put on mine," Ascencio.

The vehicle shattered on impact. Everyone but Ascencio was thrown from the car. They all died at the scene.

"I'm just trying to be strong for my family, you know," Danny Ferrer, victim's brother, said.

Najera's family says the 16-year old was trying to turn his life around. His cousin, Jessica Ocanpo said, "He was planning to get his GED. He was going Saturday to get his license. He had a job interview:

Residents in the Boxwood Drive neighborhood in Prospect Heights where two of the teens lived are raising money to help with funeral costs.

"The truth of the matter is they're gone. There is no coming back. That gentleman who lost his car can always get a car back, but these families cannot get their children back," Mayte Ruiz, Boxwood Drive resident, said.

The fatal crash is a wakeup call -- not just for Ascencio, but for all teens. "If I could take it all back, I would have told them don't drink. I would tell them to stay home, don't go out," Ascencio said.

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