Gwinnett County

19-year-old celebrated his birthday day before I-85 crash that killed him, 4 other teens

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Five teenagers leave behind grieving families after the crash that killed them in Gwinnett County in the early hours of Labor Day.

Gwinnett County police identified the victims as 17-year-old Katy Gaitan, 16-year-old Ashley Gaitan, 17-year-old Coral Lorenzo, 18-year-old Hung Nguyen, and 19-year-old Abner Santana. Pictures from their GoFundMe pages give a glimpse of the young lives lost.

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Santana just celebrated his 19th birthday on Sunday, according to his father.

“I have a lot of things to learn for him. He was smart, (such a) smart kid,” Auner Amexquita Salazar told Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson.

Gwinnett police said all five teens were in the same pickup truck that crashed and fell over a wall onto the Pleasant Hill Road ramp. It was around 4 a.m. when the crash happened. The circumstances that led up to the crash remain under investigation.

The families are waiting for answers.

“It’s very hard for us and for all the families because it’s not only him,” Salazar said.

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Three of the victims all attended Lakeside High School in DeKalb. Parents at the high school told Johnson they are hugging their children a little tighter.

“When I hear something tragic happening to a child, I think about the parents, and my heart goes out to them,” Delwin Barnes said.

A district crisis team was on campus for students who knew Katy Gaitan, her cousin Ashley Gaitan and Lorenzo.

“Hopefully they can find some kind of peace at this tragic time, but I know it’s going to be tough,” Nellie Laubmann said.

The DeKalb school superintendent also sent a letter to all families in the district to talk about the importance of self-care and compassion.

GoFundMe accounts have been set up for Nguyen, Lorenzo, Santana and the Gaitans.

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