PUYALLUP, Wash. -- The memorial along Stewart Avenue continues to grow in Puyallup after officials say a 16-year-old boy crashed, wrapping the car he was driving around a tree along the busy street early Tuesday morning.
Police say their preliminary investigation found that alcohol was a factor in the crash that killed the teen and sent three others to the hospital.
Friends of the family want people to remember Diego Villegas for the young man he was, not for the mistake he made. Kimberlyn Totten has known Diego since he was little.
“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. My heart’s just aching, obviously for the loss of Diego’s life, but for his family.”
Based on their preliminary investigation, officials say Diego and his friends were at a small house party, where police say Diego drank alcohol before crashing and wrapping the car he was driving around a tree.
Dana Nuber recalls hearing the crash this morning.
“You could hear a screech that lasts a good few seconds—that’s a sound you don’t get out of your head.”
Police tell Q13 News he was speeding, going up to 85 miles per hour in this 35 mile per hour zone.
Diego didn’t survive. The other three people in the car were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“The image alone that we saw was so hard to get out of my mind," Nuber says.
Diego was set to be a Junior at Rogers High School in Puyallup and played baseball there.
Totten tells us the teen had a twin brother and an older sister.
“They’re an amazing family and it’s a huge loss.”
Those who knew him say he had an infectious personality.
“He’s a jokester, and just very entertaining to be with.”
His bright, contagious smile, now just a memory for so many.
“Even if he was you know, being a kid, living, living the summer dream of having fun, it just went… went a tragic direction.”
His memory is offering some peace.
“Even in spite of our weakness, our brokenness, our poor choices, our sinfulness, he knew that he was loved by God. That’s the reassurance we have that he is being held by Jesus, so there is peace in that.”
Amid all the chaos, and noise that comes with being a kid in high school, “Especially being a teenager, you think you’re gonna live forever.”
The public is invited to attend a vigil at 8 p.m. Wednesday for Diego Villegas. It will be held at Heritage Park in Puyallup.