By Jesse Washington
The Associated Press
WARREN, Ohio — Investigators on Monday tried to piece together what eight teenagers crammed into a 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 SUV’s 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.
Whether all the teens knew the SUV was stolen wasn’t clear. Neither was their whereabouts before the crash.
While the father of one of the dead said the teenagers were coming home from a sleepover at a friend’s house, the mother of another boy killed said that her son and his best friend had lied about staying over at each other’s homes that evening. She said she thinks they went to a party.
The SUV hit a guardrail in an industrial section of town and landed upside down in about five 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 what’s known as “Dead Man’s Curve.” Authorities did not say how fast the SUV was going. They were also awaiting the results of drug and alcohol tests.
All eight teenagers were from Warren. Friends and family members described the teens as good kids who weren’t troublemakers. Williamson said many of them would hang out and stay overnight in her basement to play video games, listen to music and watch movies.
She said her son called late Saturday night and said he was staying at the home of his best friend, Ramone White. She said it wasn’t until after the accident that she found out that wasn’t true.
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 was wearing a seat belt, state police said.
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