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ARLINGTON Police believe speed and alcohol likely contributed to a crash early Monday morning that killed identical twin brothers and their teenage friend.

Michael and Stephen Eckel, both 21, were in the front seats of a Honda that hit a tree and split in half in the 700 block of Southeast Green Oaks Boulevard at about 3 a.m.

Danielle Ruthstrom, 19, died more than an hour later at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Two other young men were injured, but officials said they are expected to survive.

Four of the five people in the car worked at the same south Arlington IHOP restaurant.

Friends said Michael Eckel was an aspiring painter, while Stephen loved to play guitar.

He had a Martin guitar and it was stuck to his hip every day, said Phillip Eagan. He said the brothers were playing pool at his house, but left about 1 or 2 in the morning.

Eagan said they had been drinking beer, but he felt they were OK to drive.

I know they had some beer or something in the trunk, he said. After they left, I don't know what happened; maybe they had more.

Police found a liquor bottle at the scene of the crash across from Ferguson Junior High.

They were artists. They were just so innocent and good, said the twins' aunt, Jeanie Jones. They tried to help, tried to please, tried to be there for their mom.

Stephen and Michael Eckel lived with their mother in south Arlington. Stephen wrote songs that now seem prophetic.

In a notebook were these lyrics for a song called The Darkest Hour It will take some time, but soon the pain will fade.

Not that soon. Not this pain.

The crash comes one month after three other young people died in a single-car wreck on Southwest Green Oaks Boulevard.


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