Survivor of deadly Ohio crash says driver sped up

Associated Press
A note rests on a memorial where six teens died early Sunday in Warren, Ohio, on Monday, March 11, 2013. 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. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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Covered in mud and blood, two teens who wriggled out of a sinking SUV and ran for help told a homeowner that the 19-year-old who was behind the wheel was driving crazy before the vehicle packed with their friends rolled into a pond.

Six teens died in the crash, including the driver who didn't have a valid license, according to a report on the crash in the northeast Ohio city of Warren.

The five who were trapped inside and a sixth who was thrown from the vehicle and found underneath it drowned, a coroner said Tuesday. It will be several weeks before tests reveal whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash, the coroner said.

The victims in the Sunday morning crash that has devastated many in Warren, a mostly working-class city in the shadow of Youngstown, were five boys ages 14 and 15 and the driver, Alexis Cayson.

In a 911 call released Tuesday, Jacquelyn Kimble said that the two survivors were "beat up pretty bad." Her husband, Jeremy Kimble, told police that Brian Henry was "covered with blood' and that Asher Lewis had mud all over.

"They said the girl was swerving, driving crazy, lost control and flipped," Jeremy Kimble told police.

Lewis, 15, told a state trooper it felt like the SUV was going 80 mph on the road that winds past a steel mill and has a 35-mph speed limit.

"The lady driving was playing around when she was driving," said Lewis, who added that the five-passenger Honda Passport was so packed he couldn't see who was driving when he climbed into the back. "She was swerving and speeding. I think she was driving on purpose like that but I'm not sure why."

Sitting in the front passenger seat, Henry, 18, told investigators he pleaded for Cayson to slow down. But he said she sped up when the SUV that was later reported to be stolen rounded what's known as "Dead Man's Curve."

Henry and Lewis both swam out of submerged vehicle after Henry broke out the rear window with his elbow, the report said.

"I got out and me and Brian was hanging on to the car and yelling names for like, less than 20 seconds, and then we swam to shore and climbed up a hill," Lewis said.

The two boys, who suffered only minor injuries, ran to a home to call for help.

In addition to the driver, state patrol identified the dead as Brandon Murray, 14; Ramone White, 14; Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan Behner, 15; and Daylan Ray, 15.

While the reports released Tuesday shed more light on what happened just before the crash, it's still not clear if the passengers knew the car was stolen.

Henry said Cayson picked him and Lewis up after they stayed at a friend's house. Henry said there were already five or six others in the Passport. He said he was not sure where the others in the Passport had been earlier.

The SUV's owner told state troopers that his sister lived with Cayson and that she took the keys without his permission 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.

"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.

Tim Cayson, who told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was the driver's uncle, said she had a 4-year-old son. He refused to answers questions about her driving.

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Associated Press Writers Dan Sewell and Amanda Lee Myers in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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