NEAR MOLALLA, OR (KPTV) - Oregon State Police have identified two recent Southridge High School graduates involved in a deadly crash near Molalla Thursday afternoon.
Troopers said Tyler Bracken, 18, and Eric “EJ” Santos, 18, were headed south on Highway 211. They said Bracken the driver of a Saturn Ion was attempting to pass several vehicles in the northbound land on a blind corner.
At the same time, troopers said a Ford F250 pickup, driven by Craig Buche, 53, of Molalla, was headed north on the highway.
Investigators said Bracken veered to the right, applied his brakes, overcorrected and lost control. They said the Saturn Ion then went onto the soft shoulder of the road and began sliding across both lanes of travel and was hit by the Ford F250 pickup.
Bracken was taken by air-ambulance to OHSU with life threatening injuries and died on Saturday. Santos was pronounced dead at the scene after life saving measures were unsuccessful.
Buche did not sustain any injuries during the crash.
Highway 211 was closed for approximately four hours during the investigation.
According to the Beaverton School District, both Bracken and Santos were students at Southridge High School and had just graduated in June.
“The community is grieving right now,” Southridge teacher and head football coach Kevin Bickler said.
The two played on the school’s football team and both were set to play college football in the fall. Bracken was set to play for Pacific University. Santos was to play at College of the Desert.
“Everybody knew who they were because they treated their peers well and they were really good teammates,” Bickler said.
Bickler said he not only taught the two but as their coach helped in the recruiting process.
“The thing that stands out to me the most about EJ was just his smile. You know he was just always smiling, he was always happy and all the kids loved him,” Bickler said.
He added that Santos had just started playing football his junior year and worked extremely hard to continue on at the college level.
“A kid who comes out you know just his junior year and then shines his senior year to be able to have the opportunity to go play college football, it’s amazing and I was just so proud of him,” Bickler said.
Bickler said the Southridge community is strong and has been very supportive over the last 24 hours.
“You know, remember to hug one another, tell each other how we feel about them because your life is way too short sometimes,” Bickler said.
A candlelight vigil was planned for the two teens Friday at 9 p.m. at the Southridge High School football field.
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