How 2 teens survived deadly Ohio SUV crash; owner says car stolen
WARREN, Ohio Two teens who escaped a crash that killed six friends in a swampy pond wriggled out of the wreckage by smashing a rear window and swimming away from the SUV, a state trooper said Monday.
The inside of the sport utility vehicle was entirely under water within minutes of the crash, said State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt.
The owner of the SUV says the vehicle had been stolen. The State Highway Patrol says the sport utility vehicle's owner met with police Monday and filed a theft report, saying it was stolen in the city.
Investigators don't yet know why the eight were in the speeding vehicle without permission when it smashed into a guardrail and flipped over into the pond Sunday morning around daybreak, Holt said.
No one in the group had asked to take the vehicle and its owner was not related to any of the teens, Holt said. The vehicle was licensed to a resident of Youngstown, about 20 miles away.
"That's all we know right now," he said.
The two teens who escaped have talked with investigators, Holt said. The two boys ran a quarter-mile to a home to call 911, the highway patrol said.
Investigators were focused on speed as a key factor in the crash and said weather did not play a role.
While citing an unspecified "high rate" of speed, investigators wouldn't speculate on whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash on a two-lane road snugged between guardrails in an industrial section of the city.
"I can't believe you're gone," Mariah Bryant, 12, wrote in a message taped to a stuffed bear at the scene in memory of her half-brother, Daylan Ray, 15, who was killed.
"I love and miss you so much," said the message, which drew a steady stream of onlookers. The bear was part of a growing memorial of stuffed animals at the roadside.
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Deanna Behner said her 15-year-old son and the other teenagers were close friends who lived in the same neighborhood on the east side of Warren, Youngstown TV stations WKBN and WYTV reported. Behner told the stations that authorities unsuccessfully tried for hours to save her son, Kirklan Behner.
The Honda Passport veered off the left side of a road and overturned about 60 miles east of Cleveland, State Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston said. Investigators say it came to rest upside down in the swamp and sank with five of the victims trapped inside. A sixth, who was thrown from the SUV during the crash, was found under it when the vehicle was taken out of the water.
Holt said Sunday evening that speed was a factor, although investigators were still trying to determine the speed at the time of the accident.
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