Two Londonderry High School 2004 graduates were among the victims of a fatal car accident over the weekend.
Jeffrey Levesque, 24, and Alex DeFreitas, 24, both of Londonderry, Chase Abreu, 25, of Pelham and Jesse Pena, 25, of Lowell were pronounced dead at the scene Sunday afternoon.
Friends and relatives had been searching for the four young men after they did not return from a trip to a Manchester nightclub Friday night. Londonderry police took a missing persons report Saturday evening from family members.
"Jeff (Levesque) was really into computers and knew what he wanted to do in life," said Art Psaledas, assistant principal at Londonderry High. "Alex (DeFreitas) was a great kid, always ready to help anyone."
Psaledas said it was "tragic the way the whole thing went down" about the accident.
"My heart goes out to all four kids' families," he said. "The hardest thing about my job is hearing of present and past students dying."
Although New Hampshire State Police have not said who found the car — down a ravine in the median of Interstate 293 in Manchester — friends have said it was a friend of the DeFreitas family.
The blue 2006 Scion, registered to Levesque, was mangled and not visible from the highway, according to police. The person who discovered the car — some 36 hours after the quartet was last seen — reportedly saw skid marks on the highway and followed them to the steep embankment.
State police said Tuesday speed appears to have been a contributing factor in the crash. Levesque was determined to have been driving the car and he was wearing a seatbelt. The other three occupants were not wearing seatbelts, according to police.
All four victims died instantaneously, according to the state medical examiner's office. Toxicology reports are not yet available. The accident remains under investigation by Trooper Lawrence Lundt and the New Hampshire State Police Technical Accident Reconstruction Unit.
Police said it will take time to determine why a car carrying four men went off Interstate 293 sometime early Saturday morning and wasn't discovered until Sunday afternoon, nearly 36 hours after the men had last been seen.
"I would be remiss to draw conclusions," said Lundt, the investigating trooper.
The men were last seen early Saturday morning in Manchester after a Friday night outing at the Black Brimmer, a nightclub that closes at 1 a.m. They were seen walking on Elm Street in Manchester an hour later, said Shaun Garcia, a longtime friend of DeFreitas. He said he thought the four had been friends since middle school.
Levesque and Pena had worked together for three years as software engineers at Crossbeam Systems in Boxborough, according to the company's president.
Mike Ruffolo, CEO and president of Crossbeam Systems, said Monday was a somber day. The company of 300 employees was mourning the loss of two popular, well-known employees.
He said Pena and Levesque had both worked full time at Crossbeam as software engineers for three years. Before getting a full-time job, Pena was a co-op at the company while he studied at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.
"Both these guys are really popular, very bright guys," Ruffolo said. "Very promising futures."
He said Pena and Levesque were great at their jobs, socialized often with coworkers, and had a friendship that extended beyond the office.
"They were both very promising engineers and they had a very bright future at our company," Ruffolo said. "It's a loss personally and professionally."
Lundt, the trooper investigating the crash, said police would gather as much information as possible from family and friends to piece together what happened to the men.
"This involves the loss of four young lives and it's very tragic," Lundt said. "We don't wish that upon anybody and, of course, the families are all hurting."
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