Ritacco was a passenger in Kristy Tamayo's car, as the two were on the way from a Bible study Saturday night. They are said to have been close friends. The accident happened on Amelia Church Road after the driver lost control of the car and struck a SUV.
Police said 19-year-old Tamayo lost control of her Honda after overcorrecting and then slammed head on into the SUV. Investigators believe that neither driver was speeding and cited the accident's contributing factors to be inattention and overcorrecting. Both drivers and Ritacco were wearing shoulder and lap seat belts. Right now, the report is considered preliminary, but police noted that further investigation will determine if charges will be filed.
The driver of the SUV, Larissa Reardon, 37, of Clayton, was treated and released as were her 14-year-old and 8-year-old children who were in the vehicle with her. The children are considered to be in fair condition.
Just weeks before Christmas break, Ritacco's classmates at Clayton High School spent Monday remembering the senior.
A spokesperson for Johnston County Public Schools called the incident very sad and said Ritacco's loss is being felt in the district.
"Our hearts go out to this family, as well as her friends," said Terri Sessoms. "It impacts the community at large. It's not something that's just contained within the confines of that family."
At last report, Tamayo was in fair condition at WakeMed.