One Athens Drive High School student student was killed and another injured after a fiery wreck on Mid Pines Road, near Tryon Road.
Briana Rawls, 15, a passenger, died at the scene. The driver, a boy, was taken to a hospital with a broken leg.
Investigators believe the Honda Civic was traveling at a high rate of speed when it ran off the road, hit a tree and exploded.
Moments after the crash, friends of the victims found the wreckage.
"We could see a cloud of smoke. Once we got here and there was a whole car on fire," witness Brian Dale said.
The teenagers said the driver escaped the burning car.
"His knee was cut open, he couldn't walk and the girl was trapped inside," Dale said.
Friends said the two teens may have taken a relative's car for a speedy spin down the dirt road. According to investigators, the driver was not old enough to have a license.
Witness Caylyn McCracken said the occupants in the car had just dropped off her younger brother, Josh, from school.
"They left my house in a hurry and came down the dirt road and did not show back up, so we came back here and saw a big ball of fire in the car and one of them was outside of the car," she said. "We called the cops and told them to bring an ambulance [because] one was stuck in the car."
"This is what happens when you joyride and you don't have a license," McCrackan said. "You ruin a brand new car, someone gets hurt and you lose someone."
Josh McCrackan said he changed his mind to go along for a ride at the last minute.
"If you're going to do something stupid, you need to think about what you're doing and then figure it out from there," he said.
The state Highway Patrol has not released the name of the driver. Investigators say they do not know what caused the car to veer off the road, but they did say it was going at a high rate of speed.
Grief counselors will be at the school Thursday to help students and staff deal with the loss.
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