WARREN, Ohio (AP) — The 19-year-old woman behind the wheel of an allegedly stolen SUV when it smacked a guardrail and flipped into a pond, killing six friends, didn’t have a valid driver’s license, according to a report on the crash released Tuesday.
Two teens who survived the crash told police the woman was speeding and driving recklessly before Sunday’s accident.
The State Highway Patrol report said one of the teens told investigators the driver, Alexis Cayson, sped up as she rounded what’s known as “Dead Man’s Curve.” The other teen told a state trooper it felt like the SUV was going 80 mph.
Cayson was among those killed along with five boys.
Brian Henry, 18, said he told the woman to slow down before the five-passenger Honda Passport, crammed with eight teenagers, sped down a 35-mph road and into the water early Sunday.
“I blanked out for a little bit and then the truck was upside-down in the water,” he told a 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 that the two survivors were “beat up pretty bad.”
“Can you send an ambulance?” she asks. “Two of my friends got into an accident around Pine Street and they just came over here. They are messed up pretty bad. Can you please send somebody quick?”
Asked if it was a car accident, she replied yes.
“One’s head’s bleeding, they beat up pretty bad,” she said, then stops to tell someone near her, “Just sit right there, just sit right there.”
Her husband, Jeremy Kimble, told police that Henry was “covered with blood’ and that Lewis had mud all over.
“They said the girl was swerving, driving crazy, lost control and flipped,” Kimble told police.
Authorities have cautioned against speculation about what happened and say they’re trying to gather facts as family and friends in this struggling northeastern Ohio industrial city try to fit the pieces of the tragedy together. All eight passengers came from the close-knit black community in this small, mostly working-class city of 41,000, so the deaths punched a hole in a part of Warren where everyone seems related by blood or marriage, and the rebellious rituals of youth have played out across generations.
The car was reported stolen on Monday, more than a day after the crash. It wasn’t clear if the passengers knew the car was stolen.
The SUV’s owner told state troopers that his sister lives with Cayson and that she took the keys early Sunday morning while he was sleeping at their apartment.
Marquis Stephenson said they went looking for Cayson when he realized his SUV was gone.