YONKERS, Westchester County (WABC) -- The first of several wakes is being held Tuesday for the teenage victims in a horrific crash in Westchester County that left five people dead last week.
Family and friends gathered at St. Peters-St. Denis' Church on Ludlow Street in Yonkers to remember Brandon Sierra, who was killed when a car fleeing a police stop T-boned the vehicle he was driving with three friends.
His cousin, Angel Espinal, said Sierra was humble and always happy.
Sierra will be laid to rest Wednesday morning at Mount Hope Cemetery in Greenburgh, followed by a wake from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for Tamari Watkins. Anthony Cruz will be honored next week with a noon to 9 p.m. wake Monday, followed by a funeral and burial Tuesday.
All the events are being held at the same church.
"Great polite kids, all of them, I'm really going to miss them all, I'm really going to miss them," said friend Joe Rodriguez.
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The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 22, just three days before Christmas. Also killed was Randy Brisbane, whose arrangements are pending.
"Four young lives were cut short by the recklessness of one individual," Mayor Mike Spano said. "Let this be a lesson to all who drive at excessive speeds - it not only puts your life at risk but also the innocent lives with whom you share the road. My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those lost, especially during this holiday season."
Yonkers police said officers saw a white 2009 Infiniti sedan being driven erratically and tried to stop the car, and that the driver briefly appeared to pull over before stepping on the gas.
Officers followed the vehicle, and police said the car "continued to accelerate beyond reckless speeds" as it approached the intersection at Culver Street.
At the same time, a silver 2006 Nissan sedan occupied by the four young men, all 18, was making a right turn south onto Riverdale Avenue from eastbound Culver Street.
As the Nissan entered the intersection, the Infiniti collided with the Nissan, and the force of the impact split the Nissan in half.
All four of the young men in the Nissan were thrown from the vehicle and died at scene.
"On behalf of the men and women of the Yonkers Police Department, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those young men," Police Commissioner John Mueller said. "This is an unspeakable tragedy brought upon by the reckless behavior of one individual, who also suffered the ultimate consequence. I want the families and all community members to know that the Yonkers Police will conduct a thorough investigation into this incident and will make all our resources available to support the families."
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The driver of the Infiniti, 36-year-old Devon Haywood of Mount Vernon, was extricated from his vehicle and later died at the hospital.
Haywood was a convicted drug dealer who'd served years in federal prison.
Yonkers Public Schools released a statement on the deaths of four of the young men.
"With great sorrow, the Yonkers Public Schools mourns the tragic death of four June 2020 graduates lost in last evening's car crash in Yonkers, Saunders Trades and Technical High School graduates Brandon N. Sierra, Randy Isaiah Brisbane, Tamari J. Watkins and Riverside High School graduate Anthony Cruz," the statement read.
School officials also expressed their condolences.
"Saunders High School has always been a tight knit community which takes pride in being a family and creating family values," Saunders Trades and Technical High School Principal Steven Mazzola said. "The Saunders family lost four terrific young men in a horrific accident. Randy, Tamari, Brandon and Anthony will be missed, but will forever live in the hearts of every person who has been lucky to be a member of the Saunders family."
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