Two young women were killed late Thursday when their car careened into a tree on an unlit section of Ives Road near the eastern end of Goddard Memorial State Park, according to the police.

Col. Stephen M. McCartney, the police chief, said they were not wearing seat belts and there are indications that speed was a factor in the accident. He said the police are investigating whether either of them had been drinking.

Kelly Ann Richer, 22, of 111 Potowomut Rd., and Heather Drew, 18, of 217 Ives Rd., died when the Chevrolet Cavalier they were traveling in spun around in the eastbound lane of Ives Road and crashed broadside into a tree, McCartney said.

They had been at Richer's home as she packed her belongings in preparation to move yesterday, he said. McCartney said Richer had been living with her boyfriend, whom the police did not identify.

Richer was driving as the two headed east toward Drew's home shortly before midnight, the police said. The car swerved out of control just before the entrance road to Rocky Hill School and spun 180 degrees before crashing into a tree at about 11:45 p.m.

They were a half-mile from Drew's home.

McCartney said they had to be extricated by Warwick firefighters. They were pronounced dead on arrival at Kent Hospital.

Richer's boyfriend, who was also moving out of the small house, came upon the accident scene and McCartney said some of his comments raised concerns about whether there had been any drinking. Toxicology tests are being done by the medical examiner's office. Police traffic specialists were at the scene all night, McCartney said, and while the speed of the car has not been determined, it appeared the car was going faster than the 40-mph speed limit.

"We have speed and we have non-seat-belt use," said McCartney, who called the accident "very, very tragic."

By midday yesterday, cellophane-wrapped flowers and pink and white stuffed animals were the only bright colors on the winding road bordered by trees, stone walls and split-rail fences. As the impromptu shrine grew, someone added a well-worn rubber-toed sneaker and lashed a small bottle of coffee milk to one of its laces.

Standing in the long shadows of the leafless trees, friends Robin Farrell and Ron Tibbits remembered the women as vivacious, fun-loving and adventuresome. Both loved being outdoors, exploring the woods around Goddard Park, they said.

Richer worked at nearby stables, they said, and Drew, who had dropped out, was thinking of returning to Toll Gate High School.

Farrell and Tibbits both got hugs from Risa Kornwitz, of East Greenwich, who stopped by the accident site so she could snap a photograph of the teddy bears and flowers to show her daughter that people were remembering Richer and Drew.

Jenna Korwitz, on the phone from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, said it was hard to be so far from home and learn that Drew, one of her best friends, was dead. "She was special. She could always make you laugh," Jenna Kornwitz said. "She could always make you smile."

The accident marks the first traffic fatalities in Warwick this year. At least three of the city's road fatalities last year involved young adults, including a student at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School and two students from the University of Rhode Island.