Four college students have died and three others were injured after the SUV they were in crashed early Saturday in the Maine town of Castine, authorities said.
Jerry Paul, president of the Maine Maritime Academy, where all seven attended, said in a statement that he's devastated. The school is offering counseling to students, faculty, and staff members who may need it, he said.
"Our community is grieving for these young lives and for their families," Paul said.
Maine State Police officers who responded to the crash into a roadside tree just after 2 a.m. discovered four people dead inside the 2013 Range Rover, agency spokesperson Shannon Moss said in a statement.
The four were preliminarily identified as Brian Kenealy, 20, of York, Maine; Chase Fossett, 21, of Gardiner, Maine; Luke Simpson, 22, of Rockport, Mass.; and Riley Ignacio-Cameron, 20, of Aquinnah, Mass., according to the statement.
Investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash.
The vehicle was headed south when it left a roadway, struck a tree, and burst into flames, Moss said.
The driver and two other passengers, all 20 years old, survived and were hospitalized with injuries not thought to be life-threatening, the agency said.
All seven were students at the academy, a circa-1941 state school that prepares students for careers in overseas transportation, the Navy, and other ocean-oriented pursuits. The institution, with training vessels at its disposal, offers degrees ranging from associate to master's.
Castine, about 35 miles south of Bangor, Maine, has a population of about 1,100 residents, slightly more than the academy's student body.