Pasco women killed in crash remembered as ‘best friends’ with bright futures

A source says the young women who passed away in a tragic car wreck Sunday morning were close friends who worked together, and each had big plans for the future.

Mariah Loera and Flora Leal, both of Pasco, had been working at Advance Auto Parts in Kennewick since the store opened in May, according to store supervisor Joseph Vaughan.

“They became best friends,” Vaughan said.

The woman didn’t know each other beforehand but, over the next few months, Vaughan said they grew close to each other and became very well-liked by their fellow co-workers.

“I’m in the middle of trying to keep my crew together,” Vaughan said the day after their death. “It’s a very hard time for this whole team.”

He said Loera and Leal each had a bright future ahead of themselves, which made the news of their passing especially hard.

Loera was going to be deployed to South Carolina in just a week, on Nov. 6, to begin basic combat training with the U.S. Army.

Leal was a single mother who was in the middle of raising a 4-year-old girl.

“They were both wonderful young ladies. Very happy, full of life,” Vaughan said. “They had a lot of plans for their futures.”

The girls lost their lives in a three car pileup on I-82 near Benton City.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to cover funeral costs for Loera and Leal.

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