Some cringed while others turned to see where the noise came from Friday night as cars revved their engines and sped through the intersection going well over the posted 35 mph speed limit.
The sidewalk corner was filled with teenagers who lost two friends Monday night when an SUV fatally struck two 16-year-old girls in that same Las Vegas intersection.
Nelly Amaya-Ramirez and Citlali Mora were hit by the vehicle at the intersection of Maryland Parkway and Katie Avenue on Monday. The driver, Ebone Whitaker, 38, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, police said at the time.
“I wouldn’t think something like this could have happened,” said 16-year-old Lisandra Arregoitia. She said she and her Del Sol classmates often walk to the McDonald’s near where the two girls were struck.
Arregoitia and fellow sophomore Sherlyn Sugich, 16, said they knew Amaya-Ramirez from school. Sugich called her a “really sweet girl.”
Las Vegas police estimated 200 people gathered Friday night to remember the girls, and the McDonald’s closed its drive-thru so people could walk around a tree encircled by candles.
Del Sol High School’s mariachi band members also played a tribute to the girls.
Band member Leon Pineda, 16, knew Mora and Amaya-Ramirez as part of the mariachi band. He said he cried so much during the musical tribute practice that he can’t cry anymore.
“Del Sol teachers and staff care at first but not at the level that we expect them to,” Pineda said. “Since we’ve experienced three deaths already — one was a suicide and then Nelly and Citlali — I feel like they’re gonna start being more proactive with the students.”
Just after 10 p.m., two Panda Express employees who work next to the McDonald’s came to light candles. Jessica, one of the employees, said she was working Monday night and witnessed the crash. A man who uses the bus stop outside the food plaza also stopped by to light candles.
“They were the type of people that just had good energy,” student Jonathan Ruiz, 14, said, his comment immediately echoed by the group of teens. “You immediately knew that they were good people.”