The last text Dorian Brown got from his daughter, Dorien, was a happy one - a last-minute request to hold her 24th birthday bash at their Mount Sinai home.
"She made these flyers and she had just texted them to me that day," the father recalled. "I gave it a heart sign. I was going to say yes."
But at about 11 p.m. Monday, Brown and her two friends died after their Jeep suddenly crashed into a utility pole in Mount Sinai, just a few blocks from her home. The wires fell onto the vehicle and electricity arced from them, causing it to burst into flames.
Police on Wednesday identified two of three women in the vehicle as Dorien Brown, of Mount Sinai, and Rebecca Minunno, 24, of Hampton Bays. Dental records were expected to help identify the third woman, authorities said. But her stepfather and Brown's father identified her as Casi Fricker. Detectives have been trying to determine what caused the crash.
The trio bonded - Minunno's father called them "fantastic friends" - after meeting at Mount Sinai High School. They often hung out at each other's homes, and shortly after Fricker had finished her waitressing shift Monday, they were headed to Fricker's home, Brown's parents said.
At the Brown family home Wednesday, her parents laughed and cried as they recalled their only daughter and eldest child of three as an outspoken protector who had friends from all walks of life.
Brown, Minunno and Fricker made a familiar tableau in the Browns' backyard, where they'd often sit around the fire pit, placing Christmas lights around them as a "ring of protection" in which they could laugh over high school days and discuss personal challenges without anyone daring to step into the circle.
"You see one, you see them all," the mother said. "They always came by and sat by the firepit like old ladies . . . shooting the breeze, talking about 'back in the day' where their back in the day was high school.
"That was their safe space to talk openly. We respected that. We wanted that because at least we knew she was safe."
After Brown graduated with honors from cosmetology school in 2014, she and her father started a beauty salon in Freeport, Truth Hair. Hair seemed to be in their genes; the father, a real estate investor and financier, had gotten a barber's license when he was a young man.
LaTonya and Dorian Brown said they would joke about how their daughter was living a "Rockefeller" lifestyle of "peaches and cream," with as much as they could provide, with no worries and even the father driving her 40 minutes to work every day to the salon.
"I wanted to give her everything," he said, half laughing and half crying. "That was my twin. I named her after me. I'm going to miss everything."
Now, LaTonya Brown can see her daughter and friends only in her mind's eye. "It just hits you in the chest because you're expecting them to cross through that door with their coffee and their stories about the day," the mother said. "You're like sitting here waiting for the door to go flying open. And it's not."