DUANESBURG, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The steps 17-year-old McKenzie Dunnells took to reach the utility pole, which is now a roadside memorial was painful, but it was where she felt she needed to be. It’s been only a few days since the crash, which she survived, but claimed the life of her boyfriend, Ellis Ganter.

New York State Police say they were among four passengers in a vehicle driven by a teen from Cobleskill last Saturday night when it hit a snowy patch on Route 7 in Duanesburg, spun out and struck the pole.

Ellis Ganter, 16, of Howes Cave, was known for his smile and sweet nature.

“He was this goofy kid with girly curls. He was just an all-out good kid,” said Paula Diamond.

Her daughter McKenzie added, “He’s bubbly and outgoing. He was really motivated even when nobody thought he was going to do something. He knew that’s what he was going to do.”

As for her injuries, McKenzie has two broken vertebrae in her neck and one in her back as well as a broken collar bone. But her emotional wounds are much deeper.

McKenzie’s mom says her daughter, who was in the backseat, was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the rear window. Wearing safety belts for backseat passengers 16 and older has been mandatory in New York State since November.

Both of them want to see better enforcement and compliance with the law.

“I need people to realize that I am like this because I didn’t wear a seatbelt in the backseat,” said McKenzie.

The mother and daughter say they are now constantly thinking of Ellis’s family and what they are now going through.

“I love his mom, and I hope that they are all doing whatever they can to keep going. They have a lot of support,” sad McKenzie.

“Celebrate his life. He was goofy and he was always being funny, and everybody should remember the good things,” added Paula.

Ellis attended the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District.

The superintendent sent NEWS10 ABC a message, which said in part, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Ellis Ganter and extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.”

It went on to say that guidance and counseling teams are available, so that no one feels alone in their grieving.