Three families are dealing with shock and pain after a car crash Thursday morning killed a 17-year-old and left another teenager in critical condition and seriously injured a third teen.
Anchorage police say none of the teens were wearing their seat belts, with speed contributing to the severity of the crash outside an apartment complex near Commodore Drive and O'Malley Road.
Julie Starks said she was asleep on the couch downstairs while her husband slept upstairs when they were awakened by noise from the crash, but she didn't get up right away.
"I thought somebody was having a fight next door and they were throwing things at each other," Starks said. "The last one was really like a boom, you know."
It wasn't a fist fight. Starks' husband got out of bed to see what happened and it was then Julie knew something was wrong.
"We could hear voices and there was this girl -- you know it was a female crying out for 'Call 911,'" Starks said.
Starks said they immediately called for help along with others who were close by.
Anchorage police say 17-year-old Brandon Muller was killed in the crash.
Muller's cousin and close friend, Diondra Panamarioff, describes Brandon as a truly loving person.
"He touched everybody's hearts in a way," Panamarioff said. "Everybody who knew him knew he'd have a smile on his face, always."
Two other teens were also in the car with Muller, 16-year-old Chynna Tiernan and 18-year-old Damien Doctolero.
Family members of both teens released a written statement on the crash.
"We would like to thank everyone in the community for your thoughts and support," the families wrote. "We would also like to thank the emergency responders and medical staff for their outstanding care. We send our sincere condolences to Brandon's family during this time of grief and sadness. We're here to support you in any way we can."
In addition to sharing their support, the families also called for a closer look at the area where the crash took place.
"One thing we’d like to emphasize is the need for a solution to the dangerous stretch of O’Malley Road where this accident occurred," the families wrote. "We would also like to stress the importance of wearing seat belts. Thank you for your continued support of our families during this difficult time."
As all three families try to cope with the pain and shock of what happened, one family who had tragedy crash unexpectedly into their back yard is now just looking for a way to help.
" I want to go and just hold their hands and make them feel you know like we're here you know," Starks said.
The Anchorage School District says Muller wasn't attending Service High School at the time of his death, but he was enrolled there from his freshman to sophomore year. The district says he enrolled at SAVE High School in January.
ASD also says Doctolero attended Service High in the past, and Tiernan is currently enrolled there.