MORGAN COUNTY, Colo. -- A 16-year-old high school student was killed in a single-vehicle crash Sunday just north of Fort Morgan.
The victim, Danny Narvaez, was a sophomore at Fort Morgan High School and played on the football team.
“He was really outgoing honestly,” said Narvaez's friend Tony Lopez. “He could click with anybody.”
According to officials investigating the teen's death, a sign marking the curve where Narvaez's pickup ran off the the road had been pulled up from the ground.
Friends said Narvaez was driving down a county road Sunday. The truck hit a curve in the road, throwing Narvaez toward an embankment, according to Colorado State Patrol troopers.
A county road and bridge supervisor confirmed the sign and post were lying in the weeds alongside the road, and a second sign was also pulled from the ground farther south.
The signs were not blown over by recent winds, officials said.
“I heard later that night that it was him and we’re all just devastated,” friend Anthony Esparza said.
Impaired driving is not suspected. Speed could have played a factor, according to authorities.
The Colorado State Patrol’s investigation is ongoing, but the Morgan County Sheriff's Office warns that the person responsible pulling the signs from the ground could be criminally linked to Narvaez's death.
A similar incident occurred a number of years ago when a young man was killed in a crash southwest of Fort Morgan after a warning sign was stolen or removed from the side of the road, officials said.
Authorities said the cost to replace the signs, even the cost to drill a new hole to reset the post, adds up significantly.
Morgan County budgeted $80,000 this year for one staff person, signs and materials.
"As taxpayers, we should do our part to stop this waste of thousands of dollars each year in materials and manpower, which most certainly can be put to better use. Not to mention, ceasing these idiotic, childish acts may prevent another tragedy," the sheriff's office said before offering condolences to the teenager's family.
Friends said Narvaez leaves behind his parents and three older sisters.