Student killed in crash involving 3 vehicles near Los Banos identified

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The California Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly crash on Highway 152 near the Romero Visitor Center west of Los Banos. (KFSN)

Celeste Valdez, 17, was months away from starting her senior year, but Pacheco High School officials say, sadly, she was the student killed in a car crash early Monday morning.

"She was the kid on campus everyone enjoyed being around. She was on the soccer team. The outpouring of love I'm seeing on social media-- she's a great kid that's going to be missed," said PHS Athletic Director Charles Pikas.

California Highway Patrol officers say it happened around 2:30 in the morning. Valdez and the driver of a black Nissan were driving towards Los Banos.

Officers say the driver lost control of the car and stopped in between two lanes.

They say another driver headed in the same direction did not see the car and hit the passenger side of the Nissan.

The teen died at the scene.

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The California Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly crash on Highway 152 near the Romero Visitor Center west of Los Banos.


"I really haven't worked with a person who hasn't taken things like that and thought to themselves this could be my family member. It's very heartbreaking," said CHP Officer Wyatt Foster.

Officers say drugs or alcohol are not being considered a factor. They are still investigating to determine if speed was a factor.

The collision happened near Dinosaur Point, which authorities say is a windy and hazardous road.

"It's unsafe if you're paying attention to what you're doing. It's unlit so it's very dark out there during those times. It requires a higher level of attention than normal," said Foster.

School officials shared these pictures of the student with Action News.

Pikas, says they have had at least 12 people total within the high school die in the past six years.

He says, unfortunately, it is becoming more common.

"it's not the way you picture a school coming together and bonding, but we are there for each other and it's a great support group," said Pikas.

Pikas says the pain is still fresh. They are still learning the details of the crash while both students and staff mourn the loss of the teen.
Related Topics:
trafficcar crashmerced countytraffic fatalitiesLos Banos
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