County of Pima (Photo:

Three high school students died Friday evening and six others were injured after the van they were traveling in crossed the center line and rolled onto the US 70 Route near the city of Pima in eastern Arizona, authorities said.

The van, which belonged to Thatcher’s Eastern Arizona College, had nine occupants, including a driver, seven high school students and an EAC student. The other passengers received non-lethal injuries.

Students were returning from a National Hot Rod Association event in Chandler, according to Kris McBride, director of marketing and public relations for EAC.

The accident happened around 10 pm. On Friday, the Arizona Public Security Department said in a press release.

The van was headed east on the highway when it crossed the lane westward, left the road and rolled.

“We are a united community and we have united,” said McBride. “We are joining in prayer with their families and friends for these students, and our heartfelt condolences go to them.”

The health and well-being of their students, faculty and staff is a priority for college, McBride said.

“We know this is a very difficult process,” said McBride. “This was a difficult time for the entire campus community.”

The incident is still under investigation and the names of the victims have not been released immediately. Impairment was not believed to be a factor, the press release said.

“We are working closely with the Arizona Public Security Department,” said McBride. “We are also conducting an internal investigation.”

The Eastern Arizona courier in Safford said a truck procession was organized on Saturday afternoon in honor of students from Pima High School to Fort Thomas High School.

The first southern Baptist church in Thatcher will also hold a candlelight vigil for the victims on Sunday from 17:30. at 7:30 pm, the Eastern Arizona courier said.

McBride encourages anyone who needs immediate support to call the EAC consulting department on (928) 651-2889.

“We also have a 24-hour crisis hotline,” concluded McBride. “I’m 1 (866) 495-6735 … If someone is going through a difficult time, they can call us.”

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