Sharing memories of teen lost in crash, friends and family release lanterns at vigil in Independence

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Dozens of people came out Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil in memory of 17-year-old Michael Smith who was killed in a fiery car crash in Independence on Monday. The group met at Santa Fe Park, 2900 S. Santa Fe Road, and released lanterns and shared memories.

“It’s amazing to see how many people loved him and he touched everyone’s life he knew,” said Cassie Smith, the victim’s mother. “He’s amazing as you can tell he was loved by everyone and he’s going to really, truly be missed.”

MichaelSmithFamily said Smith was going to be a new father in a couple of months.

“That’s the only thing he would talk about,” said Yildi Rios, the victim’s girlfriend. “He had lost one already and that hit him hard so this was amazing to him, he was really happy.”

The crash happened at about 4:20 a.m., at Highway 291 Salisbury Road in Independence, killing Smith and driver Anthony Dunlap, 19.  Two other teenage male passengers were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.

FOX 4 first reported in an exclusive report that the car of teens was pulled over an hour before the crash by an Excelsior Springs police officer. However, Dunlap, the teens' designated driver, passed the field sobriety test and breathalizer. Police say he was cooperative and told the officer he would turn on the child locks so his friends would not hang out the car windows.

Family of one of the teens in the car say the teens had left a party in Excelsior Springs and were headed to Independence.

"He loved basketball and and he loved being with his friends, spend time with his friends," said Smith. "He was just talking about how he was ready to change his life and do something with himself. He was ready to be a dad."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help pay for Smith’s funeral.

Anthony Dunlap's family has also created a GoFundMe Page, saying, "Anything helps."

Lanterns were released at the vigil for Michael Smith. His mother and girlfriend were touched by all his friends who showed up to support them and remember him.

Lanterns were released at the vigil for Michael Smith. His mother and girlfriend were touched by all his friends who showed up to support them and remember him.

Michael Smith, photo via GoFundMe.

Michael Smith, photo via GoFundMe.

Anthony Dunlap, photo via GoFundMe.

Anthony Dunlap, photo via GoFundMe.