6 teens killed, 2 injured when overcrowded SUV flips into pond
(CNN) — Eight teenagers crammed into an SUV that was only supposed to seat five were driving a vehicle they didn’t have permission to use. And they were speeding down a two-lane northeastern Ohio road.
But any poor judgment was quickly eclipsed by a tragic crash that cut short six young lives.
The black Honda Passport veered over the left side of the road, crashed into a guardrail and flipped over into a pond near the city of Warren.
Investigators are trying to determine why.
The vehicle was going faster than the 35-mph posted limit, but the exact speed wasn’t clear, Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt said.
Officers are waiting for the results of toxicology tests, but Holt said no signs of alcohol or drugs were found inside the vehicle.
Some of the passengers were wearing seat belts, but Holt said he could not say exactly who.
A desperate search
Two of the injured occupants managed to escape from the submerged wreckage to call for help.
Within minutes, a dive team plunged into the water to search for the rest.
But none of the other six survived.
Ohio State Highway Patrol identified those killed as Alexis Cayson, 19; Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan M. Behner, 15; Daylan Ray, 15; Brandon A. Murray, 17; and Ramone M. White, 15. All were from Warren.
Cayson was behind the wheel, the highway patrol said.
“She was loving. She was silly, and she was a clown. She liked to make everybody laugh even when we were sad,” her sister Ashia Cayson told CNN affiliate WKBN.
Deanna Behner wept as she remembered her son Kirklan, a popular teen with many friends.
“I got the call that he was in an accident, and when they picked him up they said his heart wasn’t working and they tried for hours to get him to come back,” Behner told WKBN.
Behner said all eight of the teens in the vehicle were close friends who lived in the same neighborhood.
The teens did not have permission to use the SUV, Holt said. He said it’s unclear where they were coming from and where they were going when they crashed shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday near Warren, about 15 miles west of the Pennsylvania state line.
A community devastated
Teddy bears now line the guardrail. Mourners left notes for the teens, several of whom were students at Warren schools.
Grieving friends and classmates gathered to mourn Sunday night at the Willard K-8 school, where two of those killed attended.
“It’s going to be a rough week. It’s going to be a rough rest of the school year,” Warren schools Superintendent Michael Notar said.
He said grief counselors will be available to help students and staff Monday.
The crash reminded some of the joy and inexperience of driving as a teenager.
“I was such a reckless and stupid driver as a teen that every time I read one of these stories I think, ‘There but for the grace of God, go I,” Chiku Misra of Huntsville, Alabama, commented after reading about the wreck.
Ashia Cayson said she wants others to learn from the shock of losing her sister.
“Pick up the phone and call your siblings, your family and tell them you love them. You never know what can happen. Tomorrow is not promised to anybody.”