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'They had such a long life ahead of them' | Family members of three teens killed in Modesto crash reflect on their lives

Modesto police said two people died following the crash, while a third person died at the hospital sometime later.

MODESTO, Calif. — Three people are dead following a crash Tuesday evening in Modesto.

Police in Modesto said the crash happened just after 4 p.m. near Carver Road and West Briggsmore Avenue.

Police said a silver Infiniti sedan carrying five male passengers ran a red light and was hit by a semi-truck.

Two people were said to have died at the scene, while a third person was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Families identified the victims as cousins, 17-year-old Aalvin Chhue, 15-year-old Jayden Chhue.  Also killed was their best friend, 16-year-old Jose Espinoza.

A 16-year-old passenger and the driver, 20-year-old Dearin Koeur of Modesto were injured in the crash. Both are said to have minor injuries.

Police said the driver of the semi-truck was not hurt.

According to police, the driver, Dearin Koeur was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter and child endangerment for driving at a high rate of speed and running two red traffic lights resulting in the fatal collision. 

Police said an unmarked MPD vehicle equipped with a dashcam caught the Infiniti just moments before the crash. 

"As the MPD vehicle makes a u-turn, the dashcam captured the Infiniti in the distance as it approached a solid red traffic light," a press release from police reads. "The driver of the Infiniti then passed a van stopped at the red light, paused for a moment and then entered the intersection clearing westbound Briggsmore Avenue traffic."

Moments later the Infiniti crossed into the eastbound lanes of Briggsmore Avenue on a red light where it was then struck by the semi-truck. 

UPDATE ON TRAFFIC COLLISION THAT LEFT THREE FATALLY INJURED Release: February 3, 2022 On Tuesday, February 1, 2022,...

Posted by Modesto Police Department on Thursday, February 3, 2022

An investigation into the crash is underway.

Families reflect on the lives lost

At the street corner where the accident happened, there is a growing memorial to the three young teens filled with flowers, candles and pictures.

"They're smart young, outgoing boys, love to ride bikes, loved to play basketball everyday," said Mindy Mun, aunt of the Chhue cousins.

Cesar and Angie Espinoza say their brother, who loved playing soccer, was getting dropped off after school and was about a block away from home.

"He was always so positive and inspired everyone around him," says Cesar Espinoza.

"He was very charismatic. Whenever he walked in you could just tell. He was the light of the room. He made everybody laugh. He gave everybody a good time. He made everybody smile," said Angie Espinoza.

"They had such a long life ahead of them. And, it's very unfortunate that none of them were able to live their lives to the fullest," Mindy Mun added.

Michael Shroyer, principal of Davis High School released the following statement regarding the news of the crash:

"As principal of Davis High School, it is vitally important that I provide you with information regarding a heartbreaking situation that involves several members of our Spartan student family. 

We just received confirmation this morning that three of our students tragically lost their lives in the vehicle accident that occurred yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, February 1, at the intersection of Briggsmore Avenue and Carver Road. 

 I realize this is a tremendously devastating loss to our students’ families, our Davis Spartan student body, teachers, staff, and the community.

 I want parents and guardians to know that counseling support services are available for your students. We have our Spartan Center available on campus to provide support, as well as Counselors from the Center for Human Services and Community Hospice who will be here for as long as necessary."

Shroyer said a counselor will be available at the school if students need to talk. Also, online grief support will be provided through Community Hospice.

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