British Columbia

Teens who died after Burnaby-New West crash identified as Samir Ali, 18, and Yasbrat Habtamu, 17

Both teens died in hospital after the car they were travelling in was hit by another vehicle that had sped away from a traffic stop, authorities said.

Teens' car was hit by a vehicle allegedly fleeing traffic stop

Yasbirat and Samir are pictured side-by-side. They are both Black boys. Yasbirat has curly hair with the sides cut short and is wearing red. Samir has curly hair and is wearing a black hoodie.
Yasbrat Habtamu (left) and Samir Ali have been identified as the two teenagers killed in a Tuesday night car crash. (Mitsilal Weldahaimanot/GoFundMe and Oliyad Ali/YouTube)

Friends and family have identified the two teenagers who died following a horrific crash on the Burnaby-New Westminster border Tuesday night as 18-year-old Samir Olyad Suleiman Ali and 17-year-old Yasbrat Habtamu.

Both teens died in hospital after the car they were travelling in was hit by another vehicle that had sped away from a traffic stop, authorities said.

Ali was described in an online fundraising page as "a beloved member of his community in East Vancouver."

"Samir was known by all as compassionate, friendly, bright and wise beyond his years," the page read. 

"He regularly volunteered in his community, and most important to him in his life were his faith and the work he did with children."

Habtamu was described in a separate online fundraiser as "a great role model for his younger siblings and community members." 

A bouquet and a note that reads 'For Samir, you brought mso much joy...you will be missed' and a heart symbol.
A memorial is pictured Thursday near 10th Avenue and 6th Street on the border of Burnaby and New Westminster, B.C., after a crash left two teenagers dead. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The page, which was written by a family friend, says he was awarded player of the month for his soccer club team in March and recently made the Burnaby District Metro Soccer Men's team. 

CBC News learned Habtamu's identity through the online fundraiser, which named him as Yasbirat Ytatek. 

CBC learned Ali's identity through the online fundraiser and through conversations with friends and family. 

Police previously said the victims were a 17-year-old from Burnaby and an 18-year-old Vancouver resident. 

Traffic stop precedes crash

The crash happened after Metro Vancouver Transit Police tried to conduct a traffic stop on a Nissan Altima just after 11 p.m. PT Tuesday, authorities said.

Police say the vehicle "fled at a high rate of speed" and was located within five minutes a few blocks away at 10th Avenue and Sixth Street on the Burnaby-New Westminster border, where it had caught fire after crashing into a Toyota Yaris.

The two teens in the Yaris were taken to hospital, where they died from their injuries. 

The fleeing vehicle's two occupants, a male driver and female passenger, were arrested and taken to the hospital with minor injuries. They remain in police custody. 

Samuel David William Webb said he witnessed the crash while on his way home from football practice. He said the Altima sped past him and he watched it hit the Toyota Yaris. 

"I couldn't even say how fast he was going — he had to be going more than 150 km/h," said Webb. 

Webb said he pulled the young men out of their car and attempted to give them first aid by laying them on their left side. He stayed with them until they were taken to hospital. 

A few bouquets lie near a pole next to a street.
A memorial is pictured Thursday near 10th Avenue and 6th Street on the border of Burnaby and New Westminster, B.C., after a crash left two teenagers dead. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"It was the most intense and terrible thing that I've ever experienced in my life," Webb said. "It never should have happened." 

Webb said the driver of the Altima had a laceration on his face, but seemed conscious and aware of his surroundings.

IIO looking at role of police

Transit police Const. Amanda Steed said they have already received several tips from the public, as well as dashcam footage, and are asking anyone else who witnessed the incident or who has footage to contact Metro Vancouver Transit Police by calling 604-515-8300 or texting 877 777.

"That helps us paint a picture of what took place prior to the accident and the actual accident scene," Steed said.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO) is conducting a separate inquiry to determine whether police actions played a role in the collision.

The IIO, a civilian-led police oversight agency, said it received a tip shortly after the accident and deployed investigators to the scene. 

"Our role on behalf of the public is to find out what the actions of the police were and determine ... whether or not their actions were justified in law," said Ron MacDonald, the agency's chief civilian director.

With files from Liam Britten, Rafferty Baker, and Isabelle Raghem

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