6 teens killed, 2 injured when overcrowded SUV flips into pond

The eight teenagers crammed into an SUV that was only supposed to seat five.

They were driving a vehicle that was reported stolen.

And they were speeding down a two-lane northeastern Ohio road, authorities say.

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.ohio-crash

Investigators are trying to determine why, but Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt said Monday that weather was not a factor in what he called the deadliest traffic accident in Trumbull County history — and the worst in Ohio in at least three years.

The vehicle was going faster than the 35-mph posted limit, but the exact speed wasn’t clear, 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.

None of the passengers was wearing seat belts, the highway patrol said in a statement. It also said that the owner of the SUV reported it stolen on Monday, although the statement did not indicate whether the owner had been aware of the accident.

No defects were found in the car that could have contributed to the crash.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol identified those killed as Alexis Cayson, 19; Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan M. Behner, 15; Daylan Ray, 15; Brandon A. Murray, 14; and Ramone M. White, 15. All were from Warren. Murray had initially been identified as 17.

A desperate search

Two of the injured occupants managed to escape by breaking a rear window in the submerged vehicle, emerging from the pond, then running about a quarter mile to a nearby home to call 911, Holt said.

Within minutes, a dive team plunged into the 4½- to 5-foot deep water to search for the rest.

But none of the other six survived.

“With the vehicle upside down, (that much water) would have been enough to completely immerse the interior of the vehicle,” Holt said.

The divers “did an amazing job,” Holt said. “I know that the end result was tragic, but you can’t ask for better response, professionalism. They got in the water immediately, and they did what they could do,” he said.

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 in Youngstown, Ohio.

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 teens were close friends who lived in the same neighborhood.

Holt said it’s unclear where the teenagers were going when they crashed shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday near Warren, about 15 miles west of the Pennsylvania state line.

He said the two survivors were cooperating with investigators.

Sadly not uncommon

About a quarter of 15- to 24-year-olds who died in 2010 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, according to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The motor vehicle deaths significantly outpaced the other top culprits: firearm wounds, homicides, suicides and accidental poisonings.

While the number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes has dropped significantly over the past decade, 15- to 20-year-old drivers were at the wheel in 10% of deadly accidents in 2010, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s latest numbers.

A community devastated

Teddy bears now line the guardrail by the crash site. Mourners left notes for the teens, several of whom were students at Warren schools.

“We’re a community that celebrates our victories together, whether they’re in the classroom or on the sports fields and arenas. So we’re also a community that pulls together and cares for each other at times like this,” Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said.

Grieving friends and classmates gathered to mourn Sunday night at the Willard K-8 School, where two of those killed attended. Community leaders initially discussed closing area schools but decided it was important to keep them open Monday.

“We actually had some of the students who were siblings of some of the deceased, and they came to school today, and I think they needed that support,” Warren schools Superintendent Michael Notar said at a news conference Monday, fighting back tears at times.

“I think in times like these (affected students) reach out to teachers and to other students that they feel comfortable being around. And so we just wanted to keep our doors open for our students and provide that support that they may not get if we close school and leave them at home,” Notar said.

Grief counselors visited local schools Monday to help students and staff with the emotional aftermath.

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.”
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26 comments

  • Eileen

    What a tragedy my heart goes out to the families. Losing a child its lifes hardest loss, I know that pain.
    I am deeply saddened to read about this.

  • robinjohn11

    This was so bad and so dangerous accident happened, what was the exact cause? Very true said that "Tomorrow is not promised to anybody". Always be careful in driving whether its own car or car hire on rent.

  • Tam

    Read more closely:

    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.

  • Rydberg

    Not the first, not the last. I WISH KIDS WOULD UNDERSTAND THE PAIN THEY CAUSE THEIR PARENTS WHEN THEY DIE.

    Stupidity and carelessness kills.

  • Sandy

    Sometimes I think I'm to much of a strict parent. My son is 17 and I won't allow him to get a drivers license till he has graduated and enrolled in college. I always know where he is. Sometimes I feel bad I don't allow him to do what other teens are doing. But my son is alive today because of it.

    • Lloyd Christmas

      honestly, the very few people I knew who never got a license or got their license later always seemed to have the same suspicions about them. they were either not smart enough to drive, too cowardly to drive, or too cheap to drive. when you don't pay for your insurance/gas you become a mooch. and mooches are an absolute nuissance. let your kid drive before people start to make assumptions of him as well.

    • dee

      I was the same way. No license for my children till they graduated and e en went through a drivers ed program about $300. But parents have got to learn to communicate with other parents to know if they are where they say. Minors and young adults shouldn’t run around together.

    • Mom

      My teen will be a driver in a few years. My policy is that she is not allowed to transport teens, nor is she allowed to be a passenger with a teen/young adult driver.
      The responsibility of transporting the lives of others is to great to place in the hands of inexperienced drivers.

  • Trish

    Silly kids, tragic accident, terrible loss………what else is there to know…….we have all been there, you can preach until you are blue in the face…….sadly kids will be kids

  • Geo

    8 teenagers crammed into a van, going over the speed limit without permission to drive? Ok. I'll say it since no one wants to. Willfull, disobedient CHILDREN! They disobeyed their parents. This stuff happens when the kids say "I'm gonna do it anyway! You can't stop me!" They were out before 7:00 a.m. so they must have been coming home from somewhere else, probably a night of partying.

  • lori

    The kids have parents untill they are 18…….Because this happens !! Many of the parents did not no where there kids were. I dont feel sorry for them.This happens all the time,we all know it. So in the future know where your children are and dont let them have there lisense right away!!!!!!! It could save your children.

  • myidzmom

    NOTE TO PARENTS: know where your kids are, don't always trust them, ckeck up on them enough times and they will be afraid to not tell the truth. Young teens with older teens, just because they are friends and live in the same neighborhood does not mean that it's ok for them to hang out together. We know many parents are irresponsible but there were many,many,many here because nothing was mentioned about siblings in the group. God Bless, the easiest days of your life are now over.

  • R. Harris

    I could go on and on about what kind of kids they were and what kind of parents they had, but instead I'll just say my prayers go to everyone affected by this tragedy and and may their souls rest in peace.

  • mia17

    As a teenager who drives, and has friends who drive in groups, I can not stress how much this scares me. Whenever I drive with a group of friends I always try to be the driver no matter whos car it is and this is because of accidents like this. I knowi wont get distracted and can be trusted. Parents have to teach their kids how to drive, how to be safe drivers, who to trust, and what can happen if they get carried away. But parents cant keep their kids on a tight leash either, bexause they will rebel and these accidents will happen. Parents have to know their children, and wether they can trust them or not.

  • Jeff

    When I was a teenager yes I put myself at risk on a open parking lot doing stupid maneuvers once others were in the car they are MY responsibility. no one else's… so I mellowed out. I'm not sitting in jail for a mishap to look cool . Something my father taught me after he wiped out in the 60s and sat for a couple of weeks over a broken pole and a buddies bloody nose

  • Mom

    Alexis Cayson 19 year old, was behind the wheel, the highway patrol said.
    Does that mean Alexis is the person responsible for stealing the vehicle?

    Why was the 19 year old driving around with minors @ 7 a.m.?

    “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

    No one is laughing now.

  • Ashley

    I am extremely sorry for all the families who are now suffering for the loss of their children and also for the families who are suffering with the injuries that those teens are going through. I hope all this gets figured out and they figure out all the details to this accident. My heart is with all of the families that are suffering.

  • Phyllis

    I was a single parent when my two children got their drivers licenses. I NEVER paid a fine/ticket for them. In fact, when they got their license, WE had a big discussion. I informed them that the speed limit was to be obeyed by EVERYONE…….if the speed limit was 35, the sign had NO EXCEPTIONS listed on it. That speed limit was there for a reason and was to be obeyed by every driver. I also told them that if they received a speeding ticket, I would NOT pay it and I personally would revoke their driving privilges until they were 21. Parents have to be responsible also and they MUST be parents. You are responsible for your childrens actions.

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