Two high school students and a 20-year-old died in a grisly one-vehicle crash outside the Franklin Mills mall last Wednesday night.
Police believe that excessive speed played a major role in the crash in which two males were ejected from the car, which rolled multiple times, lost three wheels and came to rest on its roof in an otherwise empty parking lot between Sam’s Club and the Bethel Church.
The victims were Anthony Christensen, 20, of Bensalem; Christopher Alcalde, 17, of Summerdale; and Lucrecia Santamaria, 15, of Trenton. Alcalde was a student at Northeast High School, while Santamaria attended Bensalem High School, though she reportedly had recently moved out of that community.
The accident occurred just before 8 p.m. on the 900 block of Franklin Mills Circle. According to Chief Inspector Scott Small of the Philadelphia police, officers arrived on the scene to find an overturned maroon 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix. Christensen and Alcalde were lying on the pavement and unresponsive, while Santamaria was pinned inside the car.
Paramedics arrived and pronounced the two males dead within minutes. Santamaria, who appeared to be the only one that had been wearing a seat belt, was extricated from the front passenger seat and treated at the scene. The medics pronounced her dead at about 8:20 p.m.
Accident investigators determined that the vehicle had been traveling northbound on Franklin Mills Circle “at a high rate of speed.” Christensen, who was driving, lost control of the car on a left-hand bend. The car struck curbing on the perimeter of the parking lot and began to tumble.
Three wheels broke from the car, with at least one coming to rest dozens of yards away. The car left a long trail of other debris, including the battery, which had broken from the engine compartment, Small said.
Christensen lived with his father, brother and sister in a nearby apartment complex at Knights and Dunks Ferry roads. Santamaria reportedly was a friend of Christensen’s younger sister, Martina, and worked at Franklin Mills. Alcalde and Santamaria also were friends and appeared together in photographs posted on Alcalde’s Facebook page, including his profile photo.
Christensen reportedly worked at a tire store in Bristol Township and had gotten his driver’s license less than six months ago, according to a report published by phillyburbs.com that quoted the driver’s father, Bruce Christensen.
About two hours after the crash, Bruce Christensen and other family or friends arrived at the scene as tow trucks began to right the car. Police restrained the father from approaching the car as the victims were already being taken to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.
The results of post-mortem examinations, including toxicology tests, are pending. ••