This story originally appeared in the Vaughan Citizen.
No matter how many times you lose a loved one, it never gets easier.
In the last month, this is the tragic fact that many Maple teens have had to learn the hard way.
The community is still in mourning following the deaths of Niko Di Iorio, 15, and Ryan Sheridan, 17, after they died in a Keele Street car crash on Feb. 1.
The funeral for both young victims took place over the weekend. In an odd twist of fate, Steven Seixeiro died on the very same street under a month ago after he was hit by a tractor trailer. All three victims were students at Saint Joan of Arc High School.
Monica Di Iorio, Niko’s sister, choked back sobs as she spoke to the nearly packed Immaculate Conception Parish Friday during a mass for the teen.
“Fifteen years was not enough. Over the years we shared so much tears, joy, and laughter,” she said. “You will always be close to me in my heart.”
The tightly-knit community has been deeply affected by the loss, as over 100 tow trucks lined up on Ansley Grove Road to show solidarity to Niko’s father, who owns Platinum Towing.
Hundreds of youth attended the event, not just from Saint Joan of Arc High School, but from across the city.
Some, such as Bianca Nchiarenza and Alessandra Carino, knew Niko from elementary school when he attended St Gabriel the Archangel School.
“We were like the closest school, everyone was best friends,” Bianca said. “When we heard it, I thought it wasn’t true…I broke out into tears, it was horrible.”
“It was like a family,” Alessandra added. “It’s hard losing someone like that because you have so many memories with them, you just don’t believe it.”
Others such as Olivia Colasacco, who knew Niko since elementary school and graduated with his older sister, described him as a friendly, talkative person who was very good in sports. Niko was captain of his soccer team.
The community has also been in grief over the loss of Ryan Sheridan. A Facebook group dedicated to Ryan had over 1,800 members on Feb. 5.
The tragedies have hit the high school especially hard, with three student deaths in less than a month.
“God doesn’t take an angel one by one anymore,” said Angela Fermani on the Facebook group. “You were loved by a lot of people Ryan and you will never be forgotten. Look after Niko and Steven up there for us.”
Close friends such as Nabil Nasif put together a song in Ryan’s memory.
“Every moment that we spent, we’ll never forget, so many reasons why you shouldn’t even be dead yet,” Mr. Nasif rapped in the song. “I’ve been laying in my bed, thinking about your death, thinking about your last steps, before you left.”
Mr. Nasif said he has been deeply affected due to how close he was with Ryan, and that the loss is still sinking in day-by-day.
He described Ryan as an outgoing, warm person, who will be remembered for his laugh, his smile, his jokes, and most of all, his curly hair.
“Personally I’ve been affected by it more than I would have been affected by losing a family member that I didn’t see that often,” he said. ”You don’t realize it until you’re actually chilling with your buddies, and realize that he’s not there anymore.”
Ryan and Niko died after their Volkswagon Golf spun into a ditch and crashed into a tree Feb. 1 on Keele Street, just south of Lloydtown-Aurora Road. Both died instantly.
Passenger Giancarlo Stalteri, 15, survived the crash and was airlifted to a Toronto hospital, where he remains with non-life threatening injuries. Police say they believe he will survive.
In the last month, six residents of Vaughan have died as a result of pedestrian and car collisions.