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A car carrying five teenagers went airborne as it sped over railroad tracks in northeast Ohio early Sunday and crashed, killing the 18-year-old driver hours before his high school graduation and two of his passengers, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
The other two passengers, one of them also an impending graduate, were hospitalized.
Less than 13 hours after the crash, Brunswick High School students left empty seats covered with flowers at their graduation ceremony to remember driver Jeffrey Chaya and Kevin Fox, who was critically injured.
"It was very sad," Superintendent Michael Mayell said after the commencement ceremony at the University of Akron. "There were a lot of tears."
The 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier was traveling at a high speed just after midnight when Chaya lost control in Columbia Township, troopers at the Elyria post said. The car went airborne and off the right side of the roadway, then swerved across the left side of the road, hit a ditch and tree, then flipped over, according to the troopers' report.