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Pa. Mood Somber After Girls Death

February 2, 1999

MEDIA, Pa. (AP) _ At the Granite Run Mall parking lot, 17-year-old Amber Smith sat in her car, cigarette in hand, and shared stories behind the photographs of herself and her slain friend.

``This one here was from when we were on vacation,″ Amber said Monday about one photo. ``And here’s when she visited me in the hospital after I got stung by a bee.″

She was speaking of Tracy Graham, 16, one of five girls who died in a one-car crash on a busy suburban Philadelphia highway Friday. Also killed were Rachel Lehr, 17; and Loren Wells, Becky Weirich and Shaena Grigaitis, all 16.

The girls died after the car Loren was driving swerved into oncoming traffic, hit a utility pole and slamming into a tree on Route 1, also known as ``Dead Man’s Curve.″ State police say speed was a factor.

Monday was the first day of classes at Penncrest High School in Delaware County, where the girls were juniors, since the accident. The school excused students who were grieving or who broke down during the day.

The school library and hallways were decorated with murals to the five girls, and their lockers were covered with notes of condolences and messages.

``It’s been anything but a normal day,″ Dr. Laird Warner, superintendent of the Rose Tree-Media school district. At the mall parking lot, a radio station sponsored an afternoon memorial service for the five girls.

Tracy wanted to be a television weather forecaster in the South, said her 17-year-old cousin, Sarah Laxton. ``She wanted to be somewhere where it was warmer,″ she recounted.

``Rachel, she wanted to be a model, and Loren wanted to go into medicine,″ Sarah said tearfully. ``We did everything together. In fact, I don’t know why I’m not dead with them now.″

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