Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Mannino of Pipersville, Pennsylvania, sustained fatal injuries in a vehicle crash on Ledgedale Road in Greene Township, Pike County around 1:20 a.m. Saturday, according to Lackawanna County Coroner Timothy Rowland.
Rowland said the driver of a vehicle in which Mannino was a passenger lost control, overturned and struck several trees. He was rushed to an area hospital where he later died.
A total of four people were in the car, three 18-year-olds and one 17-year-old. The Central Bucks School District confirmed the four students in the car went to the school.
"Worst day of my life, upset I lost my best friend," said Tommy Smith, who was one of the passengers pulled from the wreck.
Smith said the driver was going too fast for the road.
Smith's stepfather, Chris Bennett, sent Action News a photo he said he took of his son, Mannino and Matt Eck. All three attended the prom at Central Bucks East prom Friday night at The Fuge in Warminster.
Bennett said the situation was absolutely heartbreaking and avoidable.
"They were so excited and I'm telling you, if you look at the pictures, they're all three together and Nick's smile is bigger than the world," said Bennett. "You see kids excited, not just to go to the prom but to hang out afterwards and just be kids, and that's what they are. It's absolutely just heartbreaking. I can't even comprehend it."
After the prom, the three students were picked up by another friend who drove the group up to the Poconos where they were all planning to stay for the weekend.
Smith says he was initially found unconscious after the crash.
"My only other friend that was conscious pulled me out of the car," said Smith, referring to Eck.
One of the victims said this has shaken up the school community.
"It's just very unfortunate how things like that happen," said Ally D'Onofrio, a senior at CB East.
D'Onofrio said she met Mannino on prom night.
"I met him that night and he was just so sweet, so friendly, so loving. You could just tell he has very good character," said D'Onofrio.
Mannino's father owns Villa Capri in Doylestown, according to community members.
"I just know Matt and what an important part he is of our community. And no matter what you ask Matt to do, he'll always say, 'Yeah you want to do what? Okay let's do that,'" said Elle Green, who said she worked with Matt Mannino.
Doylestown residents said the news of the fatal crash has shaken them up.
"I have an 18-year-old, and it's her prom, and after everything that's been like this last year, you're just so sensitive about everything. And just to hear about that, it's a parent's worst nightmare," said Andy Goodman, who lives in Doylestown.
"It's so sad. I mean, something like that can really rock a small town like this," said Cara Epstein, who lives in Doylestown. "I'm a high school art teacher, so to think of, like, if one of my students, God forbid, was in a car wreck... I mean it's so sad."
The crash is still under investigation by Pennsylvania State Police. Investigators say the driver is in a medically-induced coma in critical condition.
The following letter was released to the Central Bucks School District following the crash:
"Dear Central Bucks families,
This past weekend, our Central Bucks community suffered a significant tragedy, as a terrible post-prom automobile accident claimed the life of a CB East student, severely injured one other, and left two additional students with non-life threatening injuries. The death of a student, particularly on the cusp of what is a celebratory time of year, renders us deeply saddened and searching for answers.
The void left behind when something of this magnitude occurs, coupled with the unspeakable grief in the wake of such loss is very real, and carries much emotion. Tomorrow, our district critical response team will be at CB East to facilitate the process of grief counseling, and to provide the necessary support for students and staff, many of whom are reeling in the wake of such unexpected and difficult news.
One of the things that has always defined our community is its ability to rally in a time of need, and so it is fitting that we lift up each of the impacted families in our thoughts and prayers. While nothing can remove the pall that descends in a time of loss, we can wrap our arms around those affected in a show of support and strength. On behalf of all of us, may we extend our care and encouragement for the East community as it begins the process of mourning and healing, and may we continue to find ways to support all our students in accordance with our mission and vision.
Abram M. Lucabaugh, Ed.D.
Acting Superintendent of Schools"