A Year Later, Families Still Grieving Over Loss of “Burbank Angels”

Family and friends gathered Sunday to mark one year since a fiery drunken-driving crash claimed the lives of five Burbank youths.

All graduates of Burbank High School, the victims came to be known as the Burbank Angels.

Sugey Cuevas' family organized a Mass for the five victims at Saint Finbar Catholic Church. Simultaneously, Malak Hariri's family held a memorial service at the Burbank Islamic Center at 2 p.m.

"I miss her so much, no words can describe the words that I’m going through," said the mother of Hariri. "Life is not easy without her."

The mother pays daily visits to the site where her daughter is buried.

Exactly one year ago, a 5-passenger Nissan Altima carrying six young adults crashed at 4 a.m., slamming into a guardrail near the Scott Road off-ramp of the Golden State (5) Freeway. Upon impact, the vehicle burst into flames.

Savannah Underwood, 19, managed to escape with a broken leg, making her the lone survivor.

Underwood's friends: Sugey Cuevas, 19; Hariri, 19; Sebastian Forero, 20; Sameer Joudeh Nevarez, 17; and Stephen Stoll, 23, were found dead on the scene.

"No one’s forgotten any of them," said the cousin of Cuevas, Elsa Castro, as she held back tears.

A coroner's report later confirmed that the driver of the car, Stoll, had blood alcohol level of .18 percent - more than double the legal limit - and traces of marijuana in his system. The passengers were also highly intoxicated.

"People should not be drinking and driving," said Hariri's brother, who is now on a mission to educate teens about the dangers of driving under the influence. "To eliminate drunk driving, that's my goal."

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