“We got a hold of some family members and they said Lexi was in a bad crash,” said Stephenson, who told police she hadn’t taken his car before.
Henry said the teens had been headed home that morning when he caught a ride with the group after the other boys were already in the vehicle. He said he was not sure what they had been doing earlier.
Lisa Williamson said her son, Brandon Murray, and his best friend, Ramone White, both 14, each told their parents they were sleeping at the other’s house but then ended up at what the young folks call a “kick-back”: a small gathering of friends, less than a party but more grown-up than a sleepover.
“They were just kids out having fun, not kids into gangs, no drugs involved,” Williamson said. “They’re just kids doing what we all did at one time.”
Brandon and Ramone were close friends with another 14-year-old in the car, Andrique Bennett, known as “Butter.” He told his father, Andre Bennett Sr., that he was staying overnight at a friend’s house.
“It’s something they did all the time — go to the mall, go to the movies, then stay over with their friends,” the elder Bennett said Monday at his home.
Everyone described Andrique, Brandon and Ramone as typical teens. They weren’t into crime or drugs. They were lovers of music, video games and sports.
Their mysterious whereabouts on the deadly night were typical, too, Brandon’s mother said.
Sitting in her own living room, Williamson reminisced about her own Saturday nights growing up in Warren: “How many times did we pile into a car, having to get home before Sunday school?”
But she still can’t understand: “What made them get in that car?”
Authorities were awaiting the results of drug and alcohol tests on the dead teens. Investigators say excessive speed was a key factor in the crash, and that the passengers weren’t wearing seat belts.
Five of the dead were trapped inside the SUV when it flipped into about five feet of water. A sixth was thrown from the vehicle and found underneath it, authorities said.
In addition to the driver and Andrique, Brandon and Ramone, state patrol identified the dead as the driver, Kirklan Behner, 15; and Daylan Ray, 15. Three drowned, and autopsies on the others were incomplete, the coroner said.
At a prayer service, Mayor Doug Franklin said lessons can be learned from the crash. He spoke about teaching young people to make good choices.
He said he wants others to know one thing about the young people who died:
“They’re not unlike any other families and young people throughout our country,” he said. “Some bad decisions were made that led to this tragic event.”