VICKSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — Around 200 people gathered at Vicksburg High School Sunday evening to remember two teens and a 21-year-old who died in a car crash last week.
Friends and family said a prayer and released three paper lanterns in memory of 21-year-old Brandon Vanwalbeck and his passengers, 15-year-old Andrew Rambow and 16-year-old Hunter LaRose.
“All this is really cool, how so many people are coming out here,” Aden Lehmhuko, a friend of Rambow and LaRose, said.
The crash that happened southeast of Paw Paw is still under investigation, but authorities have said speed is believed to be a factor. Police believe Vanwalbeck lost control at a curve on 94th Avenue near 28 1/2 Street, at which point his car hit a tree and rolled.
Investigators initially thought the crash occurred around midnight Thursday, but family members say new text messages indicate it was closer to 2 a.m. The three were found dead in the car about six hours later around 8 a.m.
“It’s three days after and I still don’t believe it,” Lehmkuho said.
The driver, Vanwalbeck, graduated from Vicksburg High School and was attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College. He was known to give people rides and it is believed he was taking Rambow and LaRose home when they crashed. Vanwalbeck’s aunt says his mother knew something was wrong when she didn’t hear from him.
“My sister was worried because usually he’d always say, ‘I’m coming home’ and ‘I’ll be home shortly,'” his aunt said.
The three families say they are devastated by the loss of three young lives.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do, but it’s going to be tough, but we’re all going to make it,” Brooke Martinez, a distant relative of Rambow, said.
The families are collecting donations to help cover funeral expenses.