2 Teens Mysteriously Found Dead in Car Outside N.C. School: 'This Is a Great Loss'
A North Carolina community is mourning two high school students who were found dead over the weekend.
The students were identified as Britany Carolina Munoz Ramirez and Ailton Sebastian Tirado-Martinez by Hoke County Schools Superintendent Dr. Debra Dowless. Both were in the 11th grade at Hoke County High School.
"Hoke County Schools joins our community in mourning the loss of two of our students, Britany Carolina Munoz Ramirez and Ailton Sebastian Tirado-Martinez who passed away early Sunday morning," Dowless wrote. "This is a great loss for our entire district family. We offer our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and the HCHS community in their time of need."
The Hoke County Sheriff's Office — which did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment — received a call at 9 a.m. on Sunday about a suspicious vehicle parked outside Don Steed Elementary School, according to news station WNCN. Upon arrival, EMS found the two teenagers dead inside a car that was still running, the outlet reported.
Authorities said conversations with their families suggested that the teens had previously dated but remained on good terms, according to station WRAL.
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Officials told WNCN and WRAL that while a cause of death has not yet been determined, their deaths appear accidental.
Authorities indicated that there is no evidence of foul play, per WRAL, and investigators do not believe they died from a drug overdose or murder-suicide, according to WNCN.
Officials said they could not rule out or confirm if carbon monoxide poisoning played a factor in their deaths, according to WNCN.
School officials said that counselors would be available for students and staff on Monday and Tuesday.
"Situations like this can cause a high level of anxiety and distress for some students. We are asking that families please take time to talk with their children and allow them to share their thoughts and feelings," Superintendent Dowless wrote.
"Dealing with this tragedy is going to take time, and we will be here for every student, every family, and every staff member and will continue to provide the support needed," Dowless added.
The students, who both played soccer for the school, were also honored at a game on Monday night, according to CBS station WNCN.
"It just, it hurt. It hurt to really hear that news and I had just saw him on Friday," teammate Ramon Capote told the outlet. "I always told him, 'You know, you're gonna be the one out of your school to go Division I. You're gonna be the one that's gonna make it.' "
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"It was an emotional start to the boys soccer conference tournament last night," Hoke County Schools wrote on Facebook Tuesday morning.
"The Hoke County High boys soccer team decided to move forward and play last night's game against Union Pines in memory of both Ailton and Britany. Before the game began, the teams observed a moment of silence while a photo slideshow was displayed on the jumbotron," they wrote. "At the end of the game, family, friends and staff gathered on the field for a balloon release."
The school also shared that the opposing team arrived "wearing red jerseys (their school colors are blue and yellow) as a sign of solidarity and in memory of Ailton and Britany."
"We weren't able to snap a picture of their team but we want them to know that we really appreciate that gesture and have a great deal of respect for their team and coaches for doing that," the school wrote.