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Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

LACOMBE, La. -- A 15-year-old is dead after a horrific crash in Lacombe.

Tommy Populus was riding in a Mustang with his 19-year-old cousin, Brian 'BJ' Williams, Wednesday night. Williams was driving on Hwy. 190, just down the road from their grandfather's house, around 9 p.m. when he tried to pass a vehicle, lost control and ran into the woods.

Neither was wearing a seat belt.

'Not the best, not the best. It's devastating you know. It happened so suddenly,' said Virgil Williams, Sr., the boys' grandfather.

The lack of seat belts in this case is troubling for many since it's a vital part of teen driving safety lessons that often include crash cars just like the one from Wednesday night's accident.

'It's one of the biggest messages we're trying to convey and teach to these young drivers, is that every decision they make has consequences and especially decisions they make behind a wheel because they sometimes have life-long consequences,' said Louisiana State Police Trooper Nick Manale.

The boys' family wants other teens to learn from their loss.

'I'm going to try to teach the kids as much as possible to put their seat belts on after seeing what happened there you know,' Williams said.

'We hate to see a tragedy happen like this, but if anything good comes out of it, maybe some of these other teen drivers will think about this and realize that it can happen to them,' Manale said.

Populus was slated to start the eighth grade at Slidell Jr. High next week, while Williams just graduated from Lakeshore High School.

Williams is still in the hospital, and authorities say charges are pending in the case.

Funeral arrangements for Populus have not been set.

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