WARREN, Ohio >> A sport utility vehicle carrying eight teenagers crashed into a guardrail this morning and flipped over into a swampy pond in northeast Ohio, killing six of them while two escaped, the state highway patrol said.
The Honda Passport veered off the left side of a road, hit a guardrail and overturned just south of the city of Warren, about 60 miles east of Cleveland, 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.
The two survivors escaped and ran to a nearby home to call 911, the highway patrol said.
Ralston didn’t know where the teens were headed when the crash happened at about 7 a.m. She didn’t have any information to release on possible causes of or factors in the crash, but the highway patrol planned a news conference for Sunday night.
"All I know is my baby is gone," said Derrick Ray, who came to the crash site after viewing his 15-year-old son Daylan’s body at the county morgue. He said he knew that his son, a talented football player who was looking forward to playing in high school, was out with friends, but didn’t know their plans.
A pile of blue, green and copper-red stuffed bears grew at a makeshift memorial at the crash site along a two-lane road tightly bordered with guardrails on either side in an industrial area. The sport utility vehicle had sheared off tall cattails along the guardrail.
There were also notes at the memorial, including a letter from Daylan’s 12-year-old half-sister, Mariah Bryant, who said she had learned they were related only in the past year.
"It hurts, it really does, because they are so young and, like, they could have had so much more to life," she said. "We just really started getting close, and it’s hard to believe he’s gone."
Two of the teens, both 15, were brought to a hospital in full cardiac arrest, St. Joseph Health Center nursing supervisor Julie Gill said, and were pronounced dead there. She said they were treated for hypothermic drowning trauma, indicating they had been submerged in cold water.
The two who survived, 18-year-old Brian Henry and 15-year-old Asher Lewis, both of Warren, were treated for bruising and other injuries and released, she said.
All those killed were ages 14 to 19, authorities said. State police identified them as 19-year-old Alexis Cayson; Andrique Bennett, 14; Brandon Murray, 17; and Kirkland Behner, Ramone White and Daylan, all 15. The Highway Patrol said Alexis was the only female in the vehicle. It wasn’t clear who was driving.
All eight were from Warren. It’s not believed that any of them were closely related, the highway patrol said.
Near the Pennsylvania state line, Warren is a mostly blue-collar city that was hit by the decline of U.S. steel mills; it has more than 41,000 residents in the industrial Mahoning Valley region.
Associated Press writer Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed this report.