By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV

DERRY, N.H. (CBS) — Investigators say speeding is likely the main factor in a New Year’s Eve crash in Derry that left three Pinkerton Academy students hurt.

The driver, 17-year-old Kyle Ross, sustained life-threatening injuries and was unconscious at the crash scene.

Ross lost control of his car and hit a tree, the police said.

Johanna Morse, 16, was in the backseat and was also badly hurt.

A friend, Thompson Upham-Davis, was in the front seat and suffered minor injuries.

“Kyle’s a great guy, he puts other people before him,” said Kyle’s best friend, Eric Werner. “He’s really smart, he’s fun to be around.”

Neither Kyle nor Johanna was wearing a seatbelt, investigators said, adding Thompson had just put his seatbelt on 30 seconds before the crash, perhaps because he was scared of the high rate of speed.

Tire tracks, car parts, even school work could be seen at the crash scene on Wednesday.

“I hope that people see some of the pictures from this crash and maybe one child, one kid says, ‘Maybe I’m going to slow down,'” said Derry Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Webb, who was one of the many first responders to the incident.

People who live near the scene of the crash on Gulf Road said speeding and a bend in the street can make it a dangerous area for motorists.

“I know for a fact, ’cause I tested it, if you hit that knoll doing 60 miles an hour, you’re airborne,” Nate Hanscom said. “And when you come down, you’re looking right at an oak tree.”

Barbara Costa, a nurse who lives nearby and raced to the crash to help, said there are often accidents at the same location. “Very bad road,” she said.

It is certainly not the way students were expecting to start off a new year when they return from the holiday break.

“It’s going to be tough,” classmate Matt Muser said. “Pinkerton just comes together as a family really.”

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