MENLO PARK, Calif. - They were the best of friends who were inseparable right up until a car crash cut their lives short. Now, family and friends, as well as members of the Menlo Park firefighting community are mourning their loss.
"There's a lot of grief, a lot of sorrow just because of the gravity of the loss especially with three young men who were starting the beginning of their lives and were so close," said, Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.
The crash happened Tuesday night on Highway 35 after the car in which the teenagers were driving plunged down an embankment off Skyline Blvd. just south of Bear Gulch Rd. near Woodside in unincorporated San Mateo County.
The three men who died in the crash are Matthew Cruz, 18, of Redwood City; Ricardo Torres, 19 of Redwood City; and Andrew Gonzales, 19, of Menlo Park. All of them had graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School.
Torres and Gonzales were members of Fire Explorer Post 109, sponsored by the fire district, which serves the communities of Atherton, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. The two had been looking at enrolling in a local fire academy. Torres' father currently serves as the fire district's master mechanic.
"They would've been amazing firemen," says Fire Engineer Eric Mijangos, who supervisors the fire district's Explorer program. "I would've been a very proud instructor as well as someone that would've been there to watch them graduate."
Cruz was interested in computers and programming and was explorer a career in the tech field, according to Schapelhouman.
"You don't always see relationships like this," says Schapelhouman. "Families and friends and people that spend so much time together."
A joint memorial service is being planned for some time next week. The accident remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
Click here to donate to a GoFundMe to help build a guard rail in that location along Highway 35.