WARREN, Ohio – Investigators Monday tried to piece together what eight teenagers crammed into an allegedly stolen SUV were up to before the vehicle flipped over into a pond, killing six of them.
Authorities gave few details on where the group of friends had been and why they were out around daybreak Sunday, speeding down a two-lane road. On Monday, the SUVs owner met with police and filed a stolen-car report; police said none of the teens was related to the owner or had asked to use the vehicle.
While the father of one of the dead said the teenagers were coming home from a sleepover at a friends house, the mother of another boy killed said that her son and his best friend had lied about staying over at each others homes that evening. She said she thinks they went to a party.
If only he had listened, said Lisa Williamson, mother of 14-year-old Brandon Murray. I told him, Dont you go nowhere. But theyre kids.
The SUV hit a guardrail in an industrial section of town and landed upside down in about 5 feet of water, filling up within minutes, State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt said. Five boys and a young woman, ages 14 to 19, were killed.
Two boys smashed a rear window, wriggled out of the wreckage and swam away, then ran a quarter-mile to a home to call 911, authorities said. Brian Henry, 18, and Asher Lewis, 15, suffered only minor injuries.
Investigators said they believe excessive speed was a key factor in the crash, which took place in a 35-mph zone alongside a steel mill near whats known in the neighborhood as Dead Mans Curve. Authorities did not say how fast the SUV was going. They were also awaiting drug and alcohol tests.
Five of the dead were trapped inside the sunken SUV. A sixth was thrown from the vehicle and was found underneath it when it was taken out of the water.
State police identified them as the 19-year-old driver, Alexis Cayson; Andrique Bennett, 14; Brandon Murray, 14; and Kirklan Behner, Ramone White and Daylan Ray, all 15. Cayson, Murray and Ray drowned, the coroner said. Autopsies on the others were incomplete.
None of the teens in the five-seat 1998 Honda Passport was wearing a seat belt, state police said.