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'He was full of life' | Family and friends honor Hamden High graduate killed in crash

18-year-old Elias Hnini died after a car crash a couple of weeks ago on Orchard Street in New Haven.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Family members and friends gathered together for a candlelight vigil in honor of 18-year-old Elias Hnini. The recent Hamden High School graduate died after a car crash a couple of weeks ago on Orchard Street in New Haven.

He was taken to the hospital but it was too late.

"When I heard the news, my heart kind of just stopped. It felt like I was missing a piece of me just knowing that I wouldn't be able to see his smile in person again,” said Mariella Herrmann, Hnini’s girlfriend of 9 months and best friend of 5 years. “He was full of life and so excited about the future."

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She said she'll remember him most for his smile.

“You would just look at his smile and want to smile," she said.

"Just a ball of energy made everyone smile,” said Jack Gaffney, Hnini’s friend.

Hnini and Gaffney were co-captains of the lacrosse team. Hnini was a lacrosse and a soccer goalie.

Blake Gatson, Assistant Coach of Hamden High’s Boys Lacrosse team called Hnini “an X factor” for the team and said he took the team to the next level.

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“Coaches would come up and be like, ‘who is that kid? Your goalie is really good,’ and I think that just speaks to his character about how he was able to do whatever the team needed,” Gatson said.

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"Have Elias in your hearts and prayers please, especially his family as they are going through a tough process right now,” Gaffney said.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Elisha Machado is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at emachado@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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