The corner of Broughton Avenue and Walter Street fell completely silent Sunday night, as hundreds of Bloomfield High School students paid tribute to one of their own in an awesome display of Bengal pride.
Holding candles and bouquets of flowers, some teens loudly sobbed while others stood quietly in prayer at the scene of a horrific car accident that claimed the life of 16-year-old Christina Lembo, a well-liked soccer star and Bloomfield High School student best remembered for her smile.
"She was a nice girl, always laughing," said Monika Pollick, whose 15-year-old daughter, Leah, played soccer with Lembo for years.
Nearly 24 hours earlier, Lembo was killed when the Honda Civic she was in the backseat of collided with a Chevrolet Camaro shortly after 11 p.m., according to the the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. She was transported to University Hospital in Newark where she died a short time later. Four others sustained non-life threatening injuries.
The other two passengers in the Civic, friends said Sunday, are Bloomfield High School students who play on the boys soccer team.
On Sunday night, Lembo's teammates wore her soccer number, No. 3, in black paint on their faces and could be seen clutching each other near a curb lined with candles, pictures, flowers and balloons. Hundreds of other students, many of whom dressed in their Bengal athletic attire, rallied around them for the more than hour-long vigil.
Earlier that day, Principal Christopher Jennings opened the high school to grieving soccer players and their parents to meet with crisis counselors and to share memories of Lembo.
"It was brutal," said Gary Pollick. "None of us (parents) could do anything but just feel the pain the kids are going through."
While he said his own daughter is grief-stricken, she and the others are determined to attend school Monday and plan on decorating Lembo's locker with a memorial. Girls soccer games and practices are canceled this week.
"Tomorrow is going to be a rough day because they're getting back to reality," said Gary Pollick.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, police said. The prosecutor's office is waiting for blood test results to determine if alcohol was a factor. Authorities have not released the identity of the two drivers or other passengers.
When reached by phone at home Sunday night, Mayor Raymond McCarthy blamed the tragedy on an "act of stupidity," saying police told him an "excess rate of speed" was a factor in the crash.
"Life is so precious, it really can be snuffed out in an instant," he said. "It's a shame that things like this happen. Anyone can lose their child through a senseless act."