Loved ones remember 16-year-old killed in weekend ATV crash in Merced County

PLANADA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Candles lit up the faces of friends and loved ones of 16-year-old Leslie Avila. Those who knew her held her picture close as others turned to each other to grieve.

Over the weekend, the teen was killed in an ATV accident in Planada.

California Highway Patrol officers say she was a passenger in an ATV that her boyfriend was driving along Arguello Street.

Investigators say another ATV quickly turned into a driveway causing both vehicles to crash.

Avila suffered severe head injuries and was flown to Valley Children's Hospital where she died on Sunday.

"They were illegally driving quads on the streets, which are illegal with no helmets," said Sgt. Luis Lara with Merced CHP. "It is still under investigation, especially trying to find out where they were coming from."

Daleisy Garcia is one of Avila's close friends, and unfortunately, says the deadly crash happened right in front of her home.

"I couldn't even tell it was her. It was so heartbreaking," she said. "I couldn't believe it. I was so shocked."

A Le Grand High School Facebook page posted about the teen said she was a cheerleader for the school and about to be a Junior. Garcia says, along with that, she was a great friend with a big heart.

"Very beautiful, very intelligent, everyone looked up to her," she said.

Sgt. Luis Lara says sadly, these type of collisions are something they often see when temperatures warm up.

"We do in the summer see more collisions because people are out having a great time," he said. "We want them to have a great time, but do it with helmets."

School officials will have counselors available to students in light of the tragedy.

Meanwhile, her friends pray as they wipe away tears during her vigil, mourning the loss of life taken too soon.
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