Franklin was at the scene on Sunday morning and called it one of the worst tragedies the city has seen in recent years
By JAMES W. WADE III
This past Sunday, a vehicle carrying eight teenagers crashed into a guardrail then flipped over into a small pond in Warren, Ohio. The crash took the lives of five boys and a girl. Two other boys escaped, according to the state highway patrol shared.
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 the car came to rest upside down in the swamp and sank with five of the victims trapped inside. A sixth person, thrown from the SUV during the crash, was found under the vehicle when rescuers pulled it out of the water.
The two survivors escaped and ran to a nearby home to call 911, the highway patrol said. They also said the driver was speeding and driving recklessly, in an allegedly stolen SUV, just before it smacked a guardrail and flipped into a pond, according to a report on the crash released Tuesday.
Also released in the report, the driver, 19-year-old Alexis Cayson didn’t have a valid license. One of the riders who escaped was Brian Henry, 18, who said he told the woman to slow down.
“I blanked out for a little bit and then the truck was upside-down in the water,” he told the trooper. “There was air in the truck but it was filling with water. I used my right elbow to break out the back window.”
Henry wriggled out of the submerged vehicle with 15-year-old Asher Lewis. The pair, who suffered only minor injuries, ran to a home to call 911. In a call to 911 released Tuesday, Jacquelyn Kimble said the two survivors were beat up pretty bad.
Trumbull County Coroner has ruled that three of the passengers died by drowning. Autopsies for the other three were being performed on Tuesday by coroner Humphrey Germaniuk. At press time, no results have been released.
All eight passengers came from an area in Warren, where most residents know each other or are even related. The car was reported stolen on Monday. The owner of the Honda told state troopers that his sister lives with Cayson and she took the keys early Sunday morning while he slept at their apartment.
The six who died include the driver, Cayson, 19, the mother of a 4-year-old; Kirklan Behner, 15; Daylan Ray, 15; Ramone White, 15, Andrique Bennett, 14; and Brandon Murray, 14.
Warren’s Mayor Doug Franklin has been meeting with the families of the victims since Sunday morning. He told reporters during Monday’s news conference that he plans to be with the families as much as possible.
Franklin said, “We are a community that celebrates our victories together. We are also a community that pulls together during times like this.”
He went on to say he has been flooded with calls from citizens asking how they can help. Franklin is encouraging everyone to pray for those families who lost their loved ones.
Grief counselors have been on hand at Warren G. Harding School and Willard K-8 School, offering support to students and staff members.
Some people in the car were wearing seat belts, others were not, officials said. Police believe the car was overcrowded. What is clear, speed was also a factor in the crash police said.
Franklin was at the scene on Sunday morning and called it one of the worst tragedies the city has seen in recent years. “It’s very emotional. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families,” he said.