SALT LAKE CITY — An expectant mother involved in a head-on crash that killed two West High School students and critically injured a third delivered a healthy daughter through an emergency cesarean section.
Yet that joy of birth after a day of tragedy was offset by a gathering Friday night of hundreds of students to mourn the loss of two friends.
"She is doing as well as we could hope, given all the situation,” Todd Stevenson, father of Amy Stevenson Wilson, said Friday. Wilson was injured Thursday morning when her Honda Pilot was hit head-on by a Chevy Impala.
Wilson's daughter, who was born about six weeks early, came into the world weighing about 7 pounds, Stevenson said.
"She looks very, very good to me,” he said.
Amy Wilson, 32, however, is still recovering. She has already had two or three surgeries, her father said. The family had been unable to talk to her as of Friday afternoon because she remained sedated.
Vidal Pacheco, 17, and Dylan Hernandez, 18, were killed in the accident, Salt Lake City police said. The 18-year-old driver of the Chevy, Abraham Miranda, was taken to a local hospital with critical but not life-threatening injuries.
Two cars were driving north on 300 West near 700 North about 11:30 a.m. Thursday. One car, the Impala, had three West High School seniors in the vehicle. Near 720 North, the Impala swerved for an unknown reason, went over the median and hit Wilson's Honda Pilot head-on.
Friday afternoon, police announced they had located the other vehicle in the incident that drove away after the crash. Salt Lake police detective Richard Chipping said the driver was also a West High student. Whether that car was racing the Chevy, however, remained under investigation Friday.
Stevenson gave praise Friday to the first responders, both police and fire, for their quick action. He believes they saved his daughter and granddaughter's lives.
"We’re hopeful, I guess is the bottom line, that things will keep improving and keep moving forward,” he said.
The support Stevenson and his family has received since the incident has been both overwhelming and reassuring, he said.
Crisis counselors were at West High School on Friday to help both students and faculty members. An impromptu vigil was held for the teens Thursday night. They met at the school again Friday night — this time with about 200 people who wished to pay their respects.
Students and other mourners sang, released balloons, lit candles and took turns speaking about the boys they knew. A poster was put up on the front of the doors reading "Once a Panther, always a Panther."
"He knew who he was," said MJ Powell about his first impression of Hernandez. "And that was something I still needed to find in myself."
The two became friends. Powell admired Hernandez for his passion and for being genuine.
"It's hard to come by people like that," he said.
Powell also described Hernandez as a loyal friend.
"I knew that he would always be there for me," he said.
Powell remembered Pacheco for his love of cars and infectious smile.
"Every time he smiled, you couldn't help but smile," he told his fellow students. "You could be open, you could be yourself around him."
Belen Balderas, who met Hernandez during their sophomore year, said he loved to write rap songs.
"He talked about his life and different things going on in the world," Balderas said. "(The lyrics) were so good and insightful."
Balderas said Hernandez was "thoughtful and generous," noting she still owes him $7.
"He was an amazing human being and deserves to be remembered as such," she said, growing tearful.
Powell asked those gathered to keep Miranda in their thoughts and show support for him and his family as he fights through his injuries.
"As teenagers, all of us have done something reckless. ... That is not our place to judge people," he said.
Others took to Facebook to mourn the untimely death of their friends.
"My best friend, R.I.P Vidal Pacheco Tinoco. I can't believe your gone," one friend posted on Facebook. "I never got sad goodbye to the truest friend in the world. pains me to know such an important person is gone."
"Rip Vidal Pacheco. Man we were friends since we were little kids. (You're) in a better place bro watch over the loved ones," posted another.
Another friend wrote on Facebook, "I honestly don't know where to start Vidal Pacheco and Dylan Hernandez were very, very close friends of mine. We've been very close since 7th grade at Bryant Middle School. The news today was absolutely appalling. I am at lost for words right now, and I can not comprehend the fact that this is happening. You both were amazing people. They were always there for me since the beginning. Whenever I felt upset, discouraged, or unhappy, they were always there for me, and I endlessly appreciate them for that. I have come to realize that life is very short, and we should not take it for granted."
Contributing: Ben Lockhart