LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) — A community is banding together to help two grieving families after two teenagers lost their lives in a horrific crash. The driver, who was arrested and charged in the crash, has been released from jail.
The parents of the two 19-year-olds who were killed in the crash did not want to speak on camera, but they did want the world to know about two promising lives cut short. Maximus Close and Alejandro Mercado, both 19, graduated from Lakewood High School in 2020. Their parents said they grew up together and were best friends since the first grade.
Both were in college and studying engineering. Alejandro was studying to become a civil engineer at the University of Toledo, Max was studying electrical engineering at Cleveland State University.
“Well known in the community, popular. They had their whole lives ahead of them and something like this, a tragedy, there’s just really no real way to explain it,” said Cpt. Gary Stone, of the Lakewood Police Department.
Lakewood police said at about 2:20 a.m. Sunday, a street camera shows the car three teens were in waiting at a stop sign and about to turn left on Clifton Boulevard from Fry Avenue. Police said a Toyota Camry passed another vehicle on Clifton.
“Preliminary investigation showed that the first unit was driving on Clifton Boulevard at a high rate of speed and it did not appear that they had their lights on as it approached Fry,” Stone said.
Investigators said the teens made the turn, apparently unable to see the oncoming Toyota. The video stops before impact.
“Unit number one struck the vehicle on Fry at an angle, which caused severe damage to both vehicles and two people died in the car crash,” Stone said.
The impact split the car in half. Max and Alejandro died in the crash. An 18-year old friend, who was in the passenger seat, survived. Lakewood police arrested the driver of the Toyota, 23-year-old Selena Colon of North Royalton.
Colon was released on bond Tuesday afternoon. She faces several charges including operating a vehicle under the influence and two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. Her first court appearance is next week.
“She was taken to the hospital and the police department, then obtained an arrest warrant for two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide,” Stone said.
Max’s father said he had just bought him the Subaru he was driving the weekend before the crash. His parents said Max had just gotten off work and believes he had picked up Alejandro, who lives just up the street from the crash.
“That intersection, that area is not a high traffic crash area in Lakewood… It’s just most likely impaired driving, speed and not having your lights on on the vehicle just led to this terrible car crash,” Stone said.
Max and Alejandro’s parents said they were both organ donors. They said the two were so close that they plan to have their funerals together.
The Lakewood City School District released a statement on the tragedy:
“The District is extremely saddened by the loss of these two fine young LHS graduates. We are praying for their families and the community over this immense loss.”