Las Vegas teens killed in car crash were returning home from Fourth of July party
4 mins read

Las Vegas teens killed in car crash were returning home from Fourth of July party

Ryan Matthey and Julia Romero

2 hours ago

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Before caution tape stretched around the scene of a double fatal traffic crash, graduation confetti rained down on the driver of a car.

Julian Torres was photographed arm-in-arm with his parents during his May high school graduation in Las Vegas. Another photo shows him scoring a touchdown as the star of the football team. Another shows a sweet moment between him, his 7-year-old sister and a rabbit.

Handfuls of photos from family and friends have poured in to 8 News Now, showing the 18-year-old as they remember him: a passionate sportsman, a loving brother and a dedicated student. His brother, Luis, gave an exclusive interview to 8 News Now on Monday.

Las Vegas teens killed in car crash were returning home from Fourth of July party
Julian Torres playing football during Bishop Manogue High School’s Senior Night vs. Las Vegas; Varsity Football. (Paulina Flores)

“Julian was the light of our lives from the moment he was born,” Luis said during a virtual interview Monday afternoon, smiling as he remembered his brother. “He was always the happiest kid in the family.”

Luis said his brother was on his way to pursue a business degree at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) this fall, less than a year after being named to the 2023 NFL Latino Youth Honors. There, he will once again be classmates with a longtime friend from the Las Vegas Valley.

Julian Torres was photographed with his parents during his high school graduation in Las Vegas in May. (Paulina Flores)

Luis said the success that 19-year-old Ethan Velasquez had already had at UNR partly convinced Torres to continue his education there, adding that the two were part of a larger group of teens who traveled to their college campuses in the coming weeks to light up Fourth of July fireworks together.

But that trip won’t happen now, as the Clark County coroner on Monday identified both as victims of a double fatal traffic crash in the East Valley that occurred on Friday.

Julian Torres, 18, pets a rabbit with his seven-year-old sister. (Paulina Flores)

Las Vegas Metro Police said the crash was first reported around 2:45 a.m. Friday at Hollywood and Charleston boulevards. According to a police investigation, a white truck ran through a red light at a high rate of speed before colliding with a blue car that had a green light. Torres and Velasquez were in the blue car.

Police said the truck hit them from the side of the crossing, sending their car through a wall in the yard. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, police said.

The truck driver fled on foot and abandoned his vehicle, according to police. Investigators have publicly released only the suspect’s age: 20. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police confirmed no arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon.

Julian Torres, 18, recently graduated from high school in Las Vegas in May. (Paulina Flores)

“I just leave this matter in the hands of the authorities,” Luis said when asked about his emotions over the missing suspect.

Luis added that the duo were driving to Velasquez’s home, less than a kilometre away from the intersection, so that Torres could pick up his car and return home Friday morning.

The Velasquez family declined an interview Monday but instead sent the following statement:

Ethan was loved and cared for by so many. This loss has deeply affected not only his family but the entire community. Ethan always had the brightest spirit, so much compassion for others and the silliest jokes. We love him so much and now that love becomes a part of us. He never forgot to live life to the fullest and have countless spontaneous adventures. He was silly and always goofing off, making those around him laugh. Ethan was approachable, friendly and welcoming to everyone and his kind heart was obvious. His laughter, silliness and positive energy were what drew so many people to him. He made countless friends at LVHS and UNR. Ethan was so excited that his dear Julian would join him at UNR for the upcoming school year.

Both families have set up separate fundraisers for their individual funeral expenses. The Torres GoFundMe and Velasquez GoFundMe are seeking to raise $25,000.