Hickory mourns loss of teen killed in weekend crash

Teen charged for crash that killed friend

HICKORY, N.C. -- A group of Hickory High School students spent the end of their three-day weekend mourning the loss of one of their own.

"Still just hard to believe that I'm going to go to school tomorrow and he's just not going to be there," said senior Dylan Tashjian.

Police say 17-year-old David Engelmann was driving 17-year-old Jake Robertson on 6th Street Northwest Sunday night around 7:40 when their SUV struck a curb, flipping the vehicle several times before coming to a rest in a field.

Both boys are seniors at Hickory High School.

Connor Stirewald says he didn't believe it when one of his friends first called him with the news.

"I asked him probably 10 times 'are you serious?' and I started to get mad at him because I thought he was laughing afterwards, but he was actually crying," Stirewald said.

Robertson was rushed to Frye Regional Medical Center. Tashjian

"She got the text that he had passed and we couldn't believe it," Tashjian said. "I broke every traffic law just to get there as fast as possible."says he was driving there with Robertson's sister.

There are tire marks in the grass where the SUV went off road.
Friends say David has a severe concussion, but police say he faces several charges in the crash including felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired and possession of an open container.

Friends of David and Jake say the two boys were best friends.

"My heart just goes out to David," Stirewald said. "Not to blame himself fully for this, just to keep his head up."

At 3 Monday afternoon, the First Presbyterian Church in Hickory held a prayer service to give students and others a place to come ask questions and grieve.

"This will be the hardest thing this community goes through," said Heather Wood-Davis, a pastor at the church. "Especially these teenagers, they will have to support each other."

The memorial at the crash site has served as a crutch for these kids as well.

"We're never going to forget this moment, but we're going to do our best to get through it," Tashjian said.

NBC Charlotte reached out to the families of both boys; neither of them would talk on camera, but a neighbor of David Engelmann says the teen is recovering from his concussion, but he's destroyed by this tragedy.

Police believe alcohol and speed to be factors in the crash, and say neither Engelmann nor Robertson were wearing seat belts.


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