CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. - School officials at Shenendehowa High School and State Police confirm that two students were killed and two others were hospitalized with serious injuries after an accident on the Northway.
The accident occurred between the Twin Bridges and Exit 8 northbound, in the Town of Halfmoon, around 10:20 p.m. Saturday.
Tragically, 17-year-old driver Christopher Stewart and 17-year-old passenger Deanna Rivers, both of Clifton Park, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to State Police.
The two other passengers in Stewart's vehicle, 17-year-old Shaker High School student Bailey Wind, of Latham, and 17-year-old Matthew Hardy, of Clifton Park, were transported to Albany Medical Center for serious injuries, according to State Police.
Officials say the students were leaving a sports game when another vehicle, a Volvo driven by 22-year-old Dennis Drue, hit Stewart's Ford Explorer.
Reconstruction of the accident scene, as well as witness accounts, revealed that Drue's vehicle was operating at a high rate of speed moving his vehicle from the far left lane into the far right lane. Drue subsequently made contact with the rear of the Explorer, causing both vehicles to leave the road.
Further investigation revealed that there was no apparent culpability on the part of Stewart.
A breath-screening test administered at the scene revealed a positive presence of alcohol in Drue's system at the time of the accident. Possible criminal charges for Drue include vehicular manslaughter, pending the toxicology results and further investigation by the Saratoga County District Attorney's Office and NYS Police.
He received medical attention for head injuries and was released.
In a press conference held Sunday, NY State Police Captain Steven G. James said the driver of the Volvo was "no stranger to law enforcement." He also said the students were obeying traffic laws at the time of the crash.
"It's just horrible. This is a horrible event," said Shenendehowa Athletic Director, Chris Culnan.
The Clifton Park community is struggling to cope with the loss of their football Captain, Chris Stewart, and softball player Deanna Rivers.
Students at Shen wore green in memory of the victims on Monday, and blue on Tuesday in honor of the Shaker student.
Students say Bailey Wind and Chris Stewart were a couple, and Matt and Deanna were also a couple.
"Both the kids in the car lost their loved one while they were with them. I can't even imagine how it feels for them, like when they woke up and realized that the other one's gone," said Shen senior, Justin Berry.
Staff and students say both Stewart and Rivers had bright futures ahead.
"They were tremendous students in the classroom. They were tremendous athletes on the football field and the softball field," said Shen Athletic Director, Chris Culnan.
A candlelight vigil will be held on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. at the High School Athletic Stadium to honor the lives of Stewart and Rivers and to offer support for Hardy and Wind.
The Shen community has made it very clear, they will not let the tragedy overshadow; rather they will celebrate their lives.
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