UNION • A teenager who had graduated from high school two weeks ago was among three killed in a crash early Thursday in Franklin County.
Cole W. Weddle, 18, of Union, was a new graduate of Union High School, friends said. Also killed were his pals James T. Curran, 19, of Union, and Derek J. King, 19, of Beaufort, who had already graduated Union High.
Curran and King were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Weddle died later in the morning at Mercy Hospital St. Louis in Creve Coeur.
Two other teens survived the crash with serious injuries. Isaac L. Clark, 19, was taken to Mercy Hospital in Washington and Lucas D. Schulze, 19, was taken to Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur. Both are from Union.
The five young men were in a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix that crashed about 2 a.m. on Porterford Road at Cardinal Lane, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. The car traveled off the road, striking a culvert and a tree.
Curran was driving. It was unclear whether he was wearing a seat belt, but authorities said the other teens were not.
“This is a small town and this touched a lot of hearts today,” said Jake Osseck, a friend who was in Weddle’s graduating class. “All three of the boys had an important role” in life in Union.
Weddle had finished high school a semester early and already was taking classes at East Central College in Union “to get a head start,” said Osseck. He participated in the formal graduation ceremony May 23.
“He was a good student,” Osseck said.
Osseck said he was with Weddle and other friends over the weekend.
“We had a great time,” he said. “We all hung out and listened to music at his house and in his truck.”
He and Weddle liked to free-style rap together.
King was working in Washington, Mo., and attending East Central College, Osseck said.
Curran had attended the University of Missouri in Columbia.
“All of them are really outgoing kids and were friends with everybody,” said Alex Weinhold, 21, a friend who plays bass in Six Gun Charade, a band made up of Union High School graduates.
“It’s pretty much everybody knows everybody here,” Weinhold said.
Weinhold was especially close with King. They played baseball together in high school and Weinhold works for King’s father at a local glass factory.
Weinhold posted a picture of the baseball team on his Facebook page as a tribute.
King’s page has photos of his girlfriend in her prom dress and at a Cardinals game.