FORT WORTH -- Green and white balloons floated to the sky as teens quietly wept for three departed friends.
Hundreds of students gathered at the front steps of Trimble Tech High School on Wednesday afternoon for a brief memorial service for classmates Ivan Torres, Kevin Esparragoza and Jeanette Lopez.
"Each student had a special place here, and we will always remember them," Principal Joe Dugan said. He told Torres' and Esparragoza's mothers, "We can't imagine the pain you're going through, but you are not going through it alone."
Officials said Torres, 17, had been drinking Feb. 24 when the pickup he was driving veered into the path of another vehicle. He and Lopez, 15, died as a result.
Esparragoza, 17, tried to intervene and prevent Torres from driving, officials said. Esparragoza committed suicide last month. His friends said he was wracked with guilt thinking he could have done more to prevent the wreck.
On Wednesday, Dugan told the crowd that the three were good students but urged all at Trimble Tech to honor them by making good choices in their own lives to minimize the risk of tragedy.
"This could happen to anyone one of us," Dugan said. "Don't put your parents through what these parents are going through."
Relatives and friends held pictures of the three as the teens' favorite songs played over a loudspeaker.
Esparragoza's mother, Maria Almaguer, said through a translator that the ceremony was another example of the community showing support to her family. People at various churches and schools have reached out to her in recent weeks, she said.
"No one has left us alone," she said, hugging a group of her son's friends. "They have been here to support us and be there for us."
Sophomore Anndrea Alaniz said the loss of so many friends at once has been hard on the school. She said Lopez was one of her best friends and they had matching religious pendants.
"The school is not the same," Alaniz said.
German Torres, Ivan Torres' cousin, a senior, said he hopes the ceremony helps the school get past some of the pain.
"Ivan would always want people to laugh no matter what the situation was," Torres said. "I've taken my time to mourn. ... I know he's OK. I know all three are OK now."