17-year-old student ID'd after being killed in 2-car crash while driving to school in Placentia

Irene Cruz Image
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
OC student ID'd after being killed in crash while driving to school
A 17-year-old student was being mourned after being killed in a two-car crash while driving to school in Placentia.

PLACENTIA, Calif. (KABC) -- An 11th-grade student was being mourned after being killed in a two-car crash while driving to school in Placentia.

On Wednesday morning, classmates were adding flowers and balloons to a makeshift memorial at the intersection of Yorba Linda Blvd and Valencia Avenue, where the collision claimed the life of 17-year-old Zach Henn.

The crash was reported about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, less than a thousand feet from the campus of El Dorado High School. Officers arrived to find a juvenile driver "had sustained major injuries and was trapped inside of his vehicle," the Placentia Police Department said in a statement. "His male juvenile passenger had exited the vehicle under his own power and was located at the scene."

The other vehicle, a Range Rover, was driven by a 39-year-old woman, with two child passengers, a boy and a girl, authorities said.

Henn was extricated from his 1984 Corvette by Placentia Fire and Life Safety Department personnel and was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A witness to the crash, Dawnnie Bigelow, said she saw emergency responders removing Henn from the car and putting him on a stretcher.

The female driver and the passengers of both vehicles were also hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening, according to police.

"I saw both the kids put neck braces on as well," Bigelow said, referring to the young passengers in the Range Rover. "And that was hard to see because they're young kids."

At the curbside memorial on Wednesday, some of Henn's friends provided photos of him to ABC7. They said he was on the junior varsity track team, loved cars, and was popular with other students. Hot Wheels toy cars were left at the crash site in remembrance.

"I really miss him but I know he's in a better place," said one friend, who declined to be publicly identified. "He would make an effort to talk to people. And if you were having a bad day and he could tell that -- even if he didn't know you -- he would ask you if you were OK."

The cause of the collision is under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to call the Placentia Police Traffic Bureau at (714) 993-8157.

"Our entire school district is overwhelmed with grief beyond words," Superintendent Alex Cherniss of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District said in a statement. "During this incredibly challenging time, we ask for your compassion in respecting the privacy of our student's loved ones, and to keep them in your thoughts and prayers."