Wynnie Myers had been chatting with her daughter, Ashley, on a cellphone not long before the 18-year-old died in a fiery chain-reaction crash on Interstate 66 early Sunday that killed two others, including her daughter's good friend, also 18.

"They were laughing and chattering," Myers, 44, said yesterday of the teenagers, who were in one car. "They were just full of happiness."

The Winchester teenagers had spent the evening in the District, eating their first sushi before going to bookstores and a dance club. They were on their way home when their 1996 Volvo station wagon had a flat tire on Key Bridge, and they called Myers to come pick them up. As it turned out, a bystander helped them change the flat, so they arranged instead to meet Myers at a McDonald's in Centreville.

"I told them to keep the four-ways on, don't drive over 45 and stay on the right," Myers said she told them. "I talked to them all the way up to 3:22."

At 3:52 a.m., Virginia State Police said, a 2007 Kenworth tanker truck hauling gasoline struck a 2000 Jeep from behind, and the Jeep, in turn, struck the Volvo near the Fairfax County Parkway. The Jeep's gas tank erupted in flames, and all three vehicles were consumed in the fire. The driver of the Jeep and the teenagers died instantly, police said.

Yesterday, police said they were able to positively identify the victims through dental records. Also killed in the Volvo was Sid Cardinale. The driver of the Jeep was identified as Kevin Weeks, 35, of Haymarket. The driver of the tanker, Mac Jerry Kriesch, 43, of Woodbridge, suffered only minor injuries.

Police said that they are continuing to investigate the crash but that Kriesch is the only known witness. He has told police that the Volvo and Jeep were parked in the center-right lane of the four-lane highway and that the Jeep didn't have its lights on when he hit it, Sgt. Terry Licklider said.

"It's not just cut and dried as to exactly what happened," Licklider said. "Were they stopped in the road? Was it a previous accident? Was someone disabled? We just don't know right now."

Ashley Myers and Cardinale were seniors at different high schools, and were described by relatives and school officials as possessing magnetic personalities that meant large circle of friends for each.

"He would talk to anybody. He was friends with all different types and groups of people," Cardinale's mother, Brenda Cardinale, 36, said yesterday. "He just liked to be happy. And wanted everyone around him to be happy."

Cardinale, a senior at James Wood High School, was planning to travel after graduating from high school and then work as a masseur, she said.

Tomorrow he will be buried.

"He will be terribly missed by a lot of people," Brenda Cardinale said. "He was one that shouldn't have been taken so early."

Officials at his high school announced the teenager's death yesterday over the loudspeaker after police confirmed the identities of the accident victims. In his government class with teacher Mickey Monahan, students spoke about him, with the phrase "nice guy" spilling out so many times it led to a discussion of what that meant, Frederick County schools spokesman Steve Edwards said. The students concluded, he said, that it wasn't one big act that made Sid special but a combination of little ones.

Similar scenes played out at Ashley Myers's school, John Handley High.

Principal Doug Joyner described her as compassionate and enthusiastic, whether she was participating in cheerleading, softball or choir.

"Just her positive presence, the enthusiasm and the energy that she conveyed by simply how she dealt with people every day is something that made an impact in the lives of people here in this community," he said. "She was the sort of student that everyone knew."

Wynnie Myers said she was remembering the little things: the way her daughter would dance around the house, the way they never said "love ya, bye" but rather "love ya later," the hours the two passed at the wooden table in their kitchen. It is where they talked, ate and had burping contests that Ashley never won.

"The tears at that kitchen table, the laughter, the games," Myers said. "Oh my God, the kitchen table, if it could talk."

Myers said she just recently saw Ashley's Web page on MySpace.

"She has on there that I was her best friend and she doesn't know what she would do if anything ever happened to me," she said. "Now it's the other way around."

Authorities are asking anyone who might have seen something at the time of the crash to call 703-323-4500.