Vigil held for Woonsocket teenager killed in crash

By: Chloe Leshner // Kirsten Glavin

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Twitter: @CleshnerABC6  @kirstenglavin

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WLNE) –  More than a hundred students gathered at Barry Field in Woonsocket Tuesday night, to honor a beloved classmate who was killed in a car crash on rt 295.

According to family, Lungpalinya Xaphouvong , 17, of Woonsocket was driving to the beach with a friend Monday afternoon, when she unbuckled her seat belt to try and make her sleeping brother Joshua, 4, more comfortable. Distracted, she reached into the back seat. 

"I was there, I was in front of her,” said Tyrese Kaba, a close friend of Xaphouvong’s who attended the vigil.

"I was in the first car and my friend… I thought he said that her hat fell out of the car,” said Kaba. “And then I turned around I saw her car in the tree. Right when we pulled over I ran to the car as quick as I could, but I knew there was nothing I could do."

Xaphouvong’s family told ABC6 earlier on Tuesday that they’re grieving, but they’re also thankful that their son survived and is now safe at home. 

"I’m heartbroken, my wife is heartbroken. We lost a beautiful child, a good sister," said her step-father, Tommy Lithisack.  Joshua was left with only a few bruises.

"They always hang out together, go to the store shopping whatever, I mean just all of these things that brothers and sisters do. Now he’s asking for her and he can’t see her anymore," added Lithisack, tearful.

"I guess she just made a bad decision and I guess it leads to where we’re at now. It’s a big loss to us and we have to live with it.”

Palinya was going to be a senior at Woonsocket High School. She was Vice President of her class with plans to go to college.

"Every kid who is just getting their license should learn from something like this. You have to learn from this," said Lithisack.

Palinya’s family told ABC6 she only had her license for six months before the accident.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017