JESSUP -- Students in the Valley View School District say their graduation will be a somber one.
A 15-year-old freshman was killed in a crash Wednesday night near where many students were celebrating the end of the school year.
Valley View's graduating seniors, their families, and many other students gathered at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Peckville for graduation Thursday. Earlier in the day, dozens of people visited Valley View Drive where that crash happened killing a Valley View freshman and injuring two teenage girls.
Wednesday night, Austin Bumbarger of Peckville was being a typical 15 year old, hanging out with friends on the eve of summer vacation. He started his night at a popular hangout for Valley View students: Pop Pop's Convenience Store on Main Street in Peckville.
Michael Trichilo was working there and was picking up a trash can that had been knocked over.
"He was there, and out of a whole group of kids, he was the only one who came over and helped me pick it all up," Trichilo recalled.
Trichilo joined other classmates to see where Austin's night ended.
Austin Bumbarger's dad and stepmom looked down at the spot in Jessup where their son lost his life. They were joined by friends, and dozens of Austin's classmates, even some who were among the last people to see Austin alive.
"We saw the helicopter come down. We were like, 'Somebody's getting life-flighted.' We were just a wreck. He was a wreck. I was a wreck. We didn't know who it was, so, knowing that it could be any one of our friends down here, it was just horrible," said Logyn Kamora.
Jessup police say the Cadillac Escalade he was riding in swerved suddenly on Valley View Drive, went over the guide rail and down an embankment about 300 feet. According to police, alcohol was not involved.
Austin was thrown about 60 feet from the SUV. Police say he was not wearing a seatbelt. The driver, Nicole Vollrath, 17, of Dickson City, and another passenger Victoria Hutchins, 14, of Dickson City climbed those 300 feet to get help after the wreck.
"It's nothing short of miraculous that they were able to make it up this embankment. The one that I was dealing with had no shoes on. And with their injuries, to make it up here, is really, really a miracle," said Jessup Police Chief Joe Walsh.
This area is a popular place to hang out for Valley View students. Many were there Wednesday night celebrating the upcoming last day of school.
"We all came back here on the trucks to see if we could see anything. It's horrible, seeing any of your friends, to see any of this, it's horrible," said Valley View sophomore Blake Evans.
EMTs say Austin Bumbarger was still alive when they arrived and he was flown by helicopter to Geisinger Wyoming Valley.
It took an excavator to haul the SUV out of the embankment and get it on to a flatbed truck.
The dozens of people who came to watch wondered how anyone could have survived.
"I mean, it's really scary to think, one second, everything could change in the blink of an eye. Like, you take it all for granted and one second later it's all gone. You're talking to someone and one second later, they're gone," said Valley View sophomore Logyn Kamora.
"Graduation is going to be, it's going to be a lot different than I expected. It's usually a joyous occasion, but tonight, I think it's going to be more of a somber one, and kind of just reflect because I can look to my left or look to my right tonight at my classmates and know that it could be any one of us, myself included," said Valley View senior John Rebovich.
Officials with Geisinger-CMC in Scranton said Nicole Vollrath and Victoria Hutchins were released from the hospital Thursday.
Jessup's police chief says the crash is still under investigation, but the driver could face some summary charges.
The Valley View School District plans to remember Austin Bumbarger at graduation.