The Hart High School community in Santa Clarita was in mourning this week over the death of one its recent graduates in a fiery Fourth of July crash that sheriff’s officials say was caused by a speeding driver who lost control of a BMW and slammed head-on into another vehicle.
The coroner’s office on Wednesday officially released the names of the drivers killed in the crash—34-year-old Joel Thomas Godfrey and 18-year-old Collin Charlie Gore.
But Gore was well known in the horrific 12:26 a.m. Tuesday crash near Decoro Drive and McBean Parkway was already well known in the Santa Clarita area, particularly among students at Hart High School, where Gore was a co-captain of the swim team and had recently graduated, with plans to attend San Diego State University in the fall.
Gore’s friends and classmates, along with area residents, gathered at Hart High School Tuesday night for a vigil to remember him, praising him as an upbeat young man with “everything ahead of him.”
According to the sheriff’s department, Godfrey was speeding in a BMW northbound on McBean Parkway when he lost control, clipped a tree and crossed into the southbound lanes, slamming head-on into a Honda being driven by Gore, who was apparently coming home from work. The BMW erupted into flames after the crash. Godfrey was apparently pulled out of the burning vehicle by people at the scene, but was pronounced dead at the crash site. Gore, who was thrown from his vehicle in the crash, also died at the scene.
Initial reports indicated that the BMW driver may have been racing, but sheriff’s officials later said he was simply speeding.
In comments reported by The Signal, Gore’s mother, Daleen Buter, told the crowd at Tuesday night’s vigil that her son’s death is a tragedy, but she is able to find peace in knowing that “my son was happy every single day of his 18 years of life.”