PORT ORCHARD — It was an impromptu gathering of young people Tuesday night that spilled into the street at the scene of the tragic accident — a candlelight vigil, with friends comforting each other over the loss of two friends.
“It’s huge on all of us and I think it will teach us all a very important lesson, to always remember our friends and just never take them for granted,” Kalie Nation, a friend of one of the victims, said.
Killed in the accident were one driver, Rebekah Barrett, 18, and her friend and front-seat passenger, Shanaia Bennett, 17, known to friends as Shay. A 17-year-old back-seat passenger in the car survived the accident with minor injuries.
“It`s been a long morning. The family is just devastated. We lost one of our little princesses,” said James Gabryshak, one of the victim’s uncles.
At the time of the crash, investigators say Rebekah and her boyfriend, Robert Rundquist, 20, who was driving another car, were racing each other, playing a game of ‘leap frog’ on Baby Doll Road, speeding up to 60 mph on this narrow residential street.
Rebekah apparently hit her brakes to avoid hitting another vehicle, lost control, left the roadway and hit a tree head-on.
Aily Blaikie ran to help but quickly discovered there was little she could do.
“I was holding her in my arms and I could feel a slight pulse and it just stopped. Her friend was right next to her. And you could hear her trying to breathe but there was just too much blood coming out of her mouth — she died, she took her last breath in front of me,” Blaikie said.
Rundquist was arrested shortly after the accident. He was in court facing two counts of vehicular homicide. Bail is set at $100 thousand and, if convicted, he could get life behind bars.
“He’s a good kid, just always found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Rundquist’s friend Dustin Donovan said.
Rebekah played soccer at South Kitsap High School.
Shay was a student at Henderson Bay Alternative School.
Both girls were popular, known for their outgoing, friendly personalities.
As friends mourn their loss, they hope others can learn from their tragic deaths.
“That you need to stay safe because you never know what’s going to happen next. Never take anything for granted because we don’t know how long we have,” Nation said.
School officials say counselors have been made available to students and they will continue to be available as long as the kids need them to work their way through this tragedy.
Investigators said they don’t believe drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident.