2 Texas High School Seniors Killed, 2 Injured in Car Crash After Leaving Graduation Rehearsal

Officials have identified the two victims killed in the wreck as 18-year-olds Matthew Garcia and Marcello Saldua, per multiple reports

Marcello Saldua, Matthew Garcia
Marcello Saldua, Matthew Garcia. Photo: Facebook (2)

Two high school seniors were killed and two others were injured in a rollover crash while leaving graduation rehearsal in Corpus Christi on Tuesday, the Corpus Christi Police Department confirms to PEOPLE.

The four W.B. Ray High School students were heading to school "after attending graduation rehearsal at the American Bank Center" when the crash occurred, according to a statement shared by the Corpus Christi Independent School District just hours after the crash occurred.

The Nueces County Medical Examiner has identified the two victims killed in the wreck as 18-year-olds Matthew Garcia and Marcello Saldua, according to ABC affiliate KIII, NBC station KRIS and The Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

The medical examiner did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

CCPD Senior Officer Travis Pace tells PEOPLE that "speed and racing are contributing factors to this tragic accident."

Tuesday's deadly crash occurred in the 2300 block of North Port Avenue just before 11:30 a.m. Upon arrival, first responders located a white two-door vehicle that had rolled onto its roof and four males inside, according to Pace.

Two of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene while the two remaining victims were transported to a local hospital, says Pace, who did not release the victims' conditions.

"This is still an active investigation, to include interviewing witnesses, accident reconstruction, data collecting and processing," he tells PEOPLE.

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The Corpus Christi ISD said Friday's graduation ceremony will go on as scheduled, and that "chairs will be reserved" for the pair of victims at the event "in keeping with CCISD's tradition of honoring deceased students."

"Our Texan community is devastated by this loss of our graduating seniors," said Principal Roxanne Cuevas in the district's statement. "Our hearts go out to all the loved ones affected by this tragedy."

In Tuesday's statement, Superintendent Dr. Roland Hernandez offered the district's "deepest condolences to the families of the two seniors" killed in the crash.

"We appreciate our community's prayers for our district during what continues to be an incredibly challenging time for us as well as for educators across the nation," Hernandez added.

A candlelight prayer vigil will be held for the students killed in Tuesday's accident at the Galvan House at Heritage Park at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, the day before W.B. Ray High School's graduation, according to a media advisory shared Wednesday by the office of Mayor Paulette Guajardo.

Guajardo will be joined by City Manager Peter Zanoni as well as Corpus Christi ISD Superintendent Dr. Roland Hernandez and W.B. Ray High School Principal Roxanne Cuevas at the event, per the statement.

"My heart goes out to the families and friends of the W.B. Ray High School students whose lives were taken too soon," Guajardo said before inviting the community "to join us as we come together in prayer" to honor the victims of the crash.

"The City of Corpus Christi mourns this devastating loss and invites the community to join in prayer for the families, faculty, staff, and their classmates during this immense time of grief," the statement said.

Counselors have been made available "to help students in need" as the district's crisis counseling team works to aid those impacted, according to the district's statement.

"We thank our community for joining us in support of the Texans family," the district said.

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