Students at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon walked to class with tears in their eyes, grieving over the loss of William Burton, 17, of Alpine.
Burton was a senior on the varsity football team. His classmates said he played in multiple all-star games and was a talented baseball player as well.
“He just had so much going for him,” said Jeremiah Satberry, a sophomore. “He was someone who I wanted to be like because he was just so cool.”
Friends referred to him as 'Mr. Granite Hills' because of his kindness and athletic talent.
Burton was coming home from a football banquet Monday night when the crash happened along South Grade Road.
According to the California Highway Patrol, an 18-year-old man from Crest was driving a Jeep on South Grade Road when he drifted off the road, overcorrected, and crashed into a Lexus going in the opposite direction.
“I can’t process it, I’m still trying to,” said student Jasmine Halsey. “He was like an older brother [to me].”
The driver of the Jeep had two passengers with him: a 17-year-old from Alpine in the front passenger seat who was wearing a seatbelt and Burton who was riding in the back of the Jeep with no seats or seatbelts. Burton was thrown from the Jeep and died, the CHP said.
The Jeep's driver and front passenger were taken to the hospital with minor to moderate injuries.
A 51-year-old man from Alpine was driving the Lexus with a 13-year-old girl inside. They suffered minor injuries and did not go to the hospital for treatment.
CHP officers said they do not suspect alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash.
"It's just really sad," said Arliam Terlecki, a classmate who had known Burton since 8th grade. "A lot of people didn't come to school today because they were just so sad about it."
Counseling services were being provided for students and faculty at the school.