- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Three of the four people who died when a stolen SUV crashed into a tree were high school seniors, their principal said Thursday.

The victims of the crash Tuesday night in Springfield were Andrew Savage, 20; Chassidy Spence, 18; and Katrina Lee Maisonet-Jones and Adrianna Hernandez, both 17, police said. All four were Springfield residents.

A fifth occupant of the vehicle remains hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

The three young women who died were seniors at Springfield Central High School, Principal Thaddeus Tokarz said.

“This is as challenging as anyone would think when you lose three students in such a horrific way,” Tokarz said. “But the kids are binding together, the staff is doing a good job, we’re getting great help from the district, and we’re getting through it to the best of our ability.”

All three were excellent students, Tokarz said.

Spence and Maisonet-Jones were heading to college in the fall while Hernandez had enlisted in the Army, he said. Maisonet-Jones and Hernandez were cheerleaders.

The Jeep Cherokee had been reported stolen in Milford, Connecticut, last weekend, police said.

The SUV was going 60 mph in a 30 mph zone on a major road through the heart of the city when it crashed, police said.

Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to pry open the mangled wreckage and free the five occupants. One victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victims died at the hospital.

State police had encountered the SUV before the crash, but they weren’t pursuing it, Springfield police said.

The crash remains under investigation, and authorities hope to determine who was driving.

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