Dreams die with young Farmingdale crash victims
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Tristan Reichle and Jesse Romero were on the cusp of adulthood -- close to wrapping up their time at Farmingdale High School.
Noah Francis, 15, and Carly Marie Lonnborg, 14, were both freshmen on the same campus -- just starting out. Early Saturday morning, the four teenagers -- brought together for a night of fun and food at a Dave and Busters -- died together in a head-on crash just a mile or two from the school they shared.
A fifth member of the group, Cody Talanian, 17, of Farmingdale, died at 10 p.m. Sunday at Nassau University Medical Center, Nassau County police said.
Sunday, those who knew the victims talked about their approaching milestones, such as turning 18 or wearing a Farmingdale cap and gown on graduation day or boasting about making it through freshman year.
For Tristan's father, George Reichle, 44, the sadness of his son's death brought back memories of the magic a young dad felt at the birth of his baby boy, who would have turned 18 in two weeks.
"He was a blessing when he was born," he said Sunday as Tristan's friends gathered outside his Farmingdale home to grieve and give comfort to the family. "We are torn up beyond belief."
Tristan was scheduled to graduate June 24, his father said, and was not sure what was next -- courses at Nassau Community College or working for his uncle's pool business in the Hamptons.
Jesse, 18, also was about to face some choices, his relatives said. Lately, said his brother Delvi Romero, 25, of Boston, Jesse had been considering something besides his two great passions: Derek Jeter and playing the guitar. Namely, getting a job.
For Jesse, the middle of three children, that meant weekend trips to his uncle's auto body shop for ongoing training in the trade.
He also sensed he would not live long, Delvi Romero said. "That was his fear all the time," he said. "I feel like I'm going to die in a car crash one day."
Whenever Jesse went out, his mother, Gricelides Rosario-Romero, would get nervous, Delvi said. She would ask their father, Emilio, to drive around and make sure Jesse was OK.
Friday night, she sent Emilio a text message: "Hey, go look for Jesse. I don't feel right."
Jesse wrote his father back that he was on his way home.
The freshmen in the car, Noah and Carly, were weeks away from completing that landmark year of high school.
Those close to Noah recalled his sense of humor and warmth, and his experience with more loss than a lot of 15-year-olds.
Noah moved to Farmingdale in November from Kansas City, Kansas, to live with his sister Celeste, 29, after their father's death. Their mother died when Noah was just a toddler, said Anastasia Caputo, 37, of Wantagh, whose brother is married to Celeste.
"Everybody loved him," she said. "He was great with my young girls, 8 and 6, and great with my 84-year-old grandmother."
Friends and relatives gathered Sunday at the Lonnborg home, where a poster containing several photos of Carly had been placed on a mantel. Her father said she was an only child.
Carly's family issued a written statement:
"Our family has lost one of its brightest, beautiful and unique young ladies. She was only 14, but in those short years she lived a full vibrant life and touched everyone who was lucky enough to have known her... "Our hearts are broken and the outpouring of support, thoughts, prayers and love from family, friends and community are the only thing helping to mend the hole in our hearts."
In the statement, the family extended their "deepest condolences to all of the other families that were affected by this terrible tragedy, we will keep them in our prayers."
With Emily Ngo, Lauren R. Harrison, David M. Schwartz and Darran Simon