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Kristen Portela, 17 -- Car Accident

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A foothills community is grieving over the deaths of three teenage girls killed in a traffic accident on Interstate 80 Saturday morning. A teenage boy who was in the same car as the three girls is in critical condition in a Reno hospital.

Kristen Portela, Morgan Murphy and Tiare Richards, all 17 years old, died when their 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix drifted out of the westbound lanes of Interstate 80 near Cisco Grove into the median, struck a rock outcropping, and went over an embankment. The car landed on its roof in the eastbound lanes of the freeway, sliding onto the shoulder. The three girls were pronounced dead at the scene. The Pontiac's fourth occupant, 18-year-old Michael Barris, was taken to Washoe Medical Center in Reno with major injuries.

Portela and Murphy were from El Dorado Hills. They were to start their senior year at Oakridge High School today. Their good friend Richards had recently moved to Bend, Oregon. The trio's friends are shocked the girls are gone. "School on Monday isn't going to be the same," said Chelsea Goldsberry. "I didn't even get to compare schedules with her and see if I had classes. It doesn't feel like they're really gone."

Friends are painting two large rocks on El Dorado Hills Boulevard in memory of the three teens. "No one would ever forget them, but we want people to recognize how special they were," said one school friend.

In its preliminary investigation, the California Highway Patrol said driver fatigue may have been a factor in the 8:30 a.m. crash.



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