- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PALMERTON, Pa. (AP) - Officials have identified four teenagers killed in a fiery head-on collision over the weekend as friends, relatives and members of the community gathered for a candlelight service to remember the victims.

The Carbon County Coroner’s office identified the victims as 17-year-old Michael Muniz of Palmerton, 16-year-old Austin Hunsicker of Bowmanstown and 16-year-old Nathan Murray of Palmerton along with his 13-year-old sister, Courtney.

Coroner Bruce Nalesnik said all were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred shortly before 8:30 p.m. Friday in Lower Towamensing Township.

Police said speed was a factor in the crash, which caused both vehicles to overturn and catch fire and sent the car carrying the teens into a tree, ripping the vehicle in half. An 18-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man in the other car were hospitalized.

Lehighton High School opened its doors over the weekend to allow students to speak with counselors.

“There was a couple of people that came down to the office and was upset and just wanted to talk,” said Sydney Laybourne a friend of the victims. “I was one myself; I just wanted someone to talk to.”

Scores gathered at Palmerton Park on Monday night to pay their respects and comfort each other, many holding candles as they sang and prayed.

“Four innocent lives lost, it’s just tough for everybody,” said Kim Benner. “I’ve taken my son twice to the crash scene and kind of explained how things like this can happen and thinking it could have been him and some of his friends.”

“It’s just really saddening, especially at this time of year,” Benner said.

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