A freak car accident Sunday that drowned a carload of Moab teenagers has left the town reeling and mourning the loss of four of its finest young people.

"I think it has shocked the community that four of probably the best kids in Moab would all go at once," said Amy Cook, 17, who shared classes at Grand County High School with at least one of the teens."It's going to take some time and comforting to get over this," Cook said.

Authorities identified the victims as Catherine Stewart, 17; Erin Adair, 18; Joseph Welling, 17, and his 15-year-old brother, Gary.

The four teenagers drowned in the Colorado River after their car struck a patch of frost nine miles northeast of Moab and slid off the road into the icy water. They were among six carloads of Grand County choir students traveling east on U-128 to sing at an LDS missionary homecoming in Castle Valley.

"I feel like everyone is in shock," said Anna Maria Englebright, Relief Society president of the Moab Stake.

Englebright said she had developed a friendship with Adair after the girl attended church classes she'd taught.

Only days before the accident, Adair had returned home to Moab for the holidays after finishing a quarter at Snow College in Ephraim. She had graduated from Grand County High as class salutatorian.

Joseph and Gary Welling were both popular musicians. Joseph Welling was an accomplished pianist and played first-chair violin with the school orchestra. Gary Welling played trombone and piano and was a member of the jazz band.

Friends of Catherine Stewart describe her as a top-notch student with a bubbly personality.

"She was always so happy," Cook said.

"These young people were just so outstanding," Englebright said. Stewart and Adair were friends of the Castle Valley girl returning home from a mission. The high school performing band "Sounds Grand" was to sing at the girl's homecoming Sunday morning.

"That's what put them on that River Road," Englebright said.

Ginger Clark, a pianist for the group, had watched in her rearview mirror Sunday as Stewart's two-door Subaru hatchback disappeared over the embankment at 8:40 a.m.

She parked her car and, with another student, ran along the bank hoping the four teens had made it out. They spotted the car mostly submerged and resting on a boulder some 20 feet from where it went into the water.

"I'm sure there was just no way they could have gotten out," Clark said.

She and the other choir students who returned to the site were forced to leave when rescuers pulled the vehicle from the water 90 minutes later.

"We were just going up to sing; we'd done it before," Clark said. "The River Road can be dangerous in the winter because the sun doesn't get on all parts of the road."

On Monday, the townspeople were trying to put their lives back together following one of the worst tragedies in the community's recent history.

"They were really close, but they're coming through," said Ken Ballantyne, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper whose daughter was among those traveling to Castle Valley. The remaining friends are turning to each other for support, he said.

"In a small school like that, they were all friends," Clark said. "They will have a hard time getting over this."