Two of the three teens who died in a two-car crash on Kelly Drive on Wednesday night were cousins, Joyce Roberts and Julian Durant, and the third teen, Juwan Johnson, lived across the street from Roberts in Philadelphia’s Cedarbrook neighborhood.
It was on that street Thursday where family and friends gathered to console one another and to remember the trio as studious, industrious teens who stayed clear of trouble and had bright futures.
“I’m still in shock,” said Vinicia Johnson, 60, the aunt of the two cousins. “About a week ago I was playing with them. It’s just unbelievable, unbelievable.”
Durant, 17, the son of Johnson’s sister, worked at Home Depot and would have soon graduated from high school, she said. He wanted to be a singer, she said, and idolized Michael Jackson.
Roberts, 18, the granddaughter of another of Johnson’s sisters, was preparing to attend college out of state, said Johnson, who recalled that Roberts was “very playful, compassionate, and athletic” and was close to her tight-knit, extended family.
Just after 9 p.m. Wednesday, Roberts was driving a Mazda sedan and traveling south on Kelly Drive with passengers Durant, Juwan Johnson, and a third teen, when the car crossed over into opposing traffic and was struck on the passenger side by a Honda SUV, Chief Inspector Scott Small said.
Roberts was pronounced dead at the scene, as was Durant, a front-seat passenger, police said.
Johnson, 19, a passenger in the backseat, was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The identity of the teen who survived was not released by police, as is customary.
A 65-year-old man who was driving the SUV was taken to Einstein Medical Center, where he was listed in critical but stable condition.
The cause of the crash was under investigation.
The collision left so much debris on a grassy patch on the side of Kelly Drive that a city work crew was still cleaning it up Thursday afternoon, while in Cedarbrook, relatives of the teens gathered to mourn them.
Relatives said the 2006 Mazda Roberts was driving at the time of the crash had been a graduation gift.
“They just threw her a big party last year for graduating from high school, and that was her present. Her mom had just bought her that car for a graduation,” Vinicia Johnson said.
The parents of the teens declined to speak to a reporter.
Jon Mcilwain, 37, said he frequently saw Durant around the neighborhood tending to neighbors’ lawns and helping them renovate homes to earn money. “He was a good kid. Other kids do other stuff, but he was [working],” Mcilwain said while seated on the front steps of friend Kevin Rutland’s home.
“He was doing things for his neighbors. He wasn’t doing the riffraff stuff. It’s crazy. I just saw him cutting somebody’s grass yesterday,” he said.
“He was a leader at a young age. And he was about the positive stuff, not the negative,” Rutland, 42, said of Durant, who was friends with Rutland’s 16-year-old son. “I was up with my son all night,” said Rutland, who lives on the same side of Bayard Street from Johnson’s family and across the street from Roberts.
“It’s gonna be hard,” Johnson said before going into the home of Roberts’ parents. “Oh, my God. It’s gonna be hard.”
Staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.