SOUTHINGTON - Speed was a likely factor in the early Sunday morning crash of a black sport-utility vehicle that killed six of the eight Warren teenagers inside, said an official with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Patrol Lt. Brian Holt at a Sunday evening news conference said police in the early part of the investigation weren't sure just how fast the 1998 Honda Passport was traveling on Pine Avenue S.E., but it appears the vehicle was traveling above the posted speed limit. The road has a 35-mile-per-hour limit.
Holt would not speculate on whether drugs or alcohol played a role, leaving toxicology results to provide that information.
The vehicle, heading south, veered off the left side of the road about 7 a.m., struck and rolled over a guardrail and landed on its roof in a 4- to 5-feet deep pond.
Five of the teens trapped inside the vehicle were removed by Warren City firefighters, a sixth was ejected and found under the vehicle when it was being removed from the water.
Two of the occupants were able to escape and ran about a quarter-mile to a home to call 911.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle / News Channel 5 WEWS
The 1998 Honda Passport that was carrying eight Warren residents is shown Sunday. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the accident in which six teenagers died. It belongs to Marguis Stephenson of Youngstown, whose relationship to any of the victims is not known.
The patrol identified the driver of the vehicle as 19-year-old Alexis Cayson. She is among the six who are dead.
Others killed were Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan M. Behner, 15; Daylan Ray, 15; Brandon A. Murray, 17; and Ramone M. White, 15.
Injured in the accident were Brian K. Henry, 18, and Asher C. Lewis, 15. They suffered ''fairly minor injuries'' and have been released from the hospital, Holt said.
The crash could be the deadliest ever in Trumbull County and, according to Holt, is the only crash in Ohio in the last three years that killed more than five people.
Holt said the preliminary investigation shows none of the occupants had ''express'' permission to be in possession of the vehicle. It belongs to Marguis Stephenson of Youngstown, whose relationship to any of the victims is not known, Holt said.
''We don't have exact information yet, but it is part of our investigation now,'' Holt said.
Some of the occupants were wearing a seatbelt, but the patrol was not ready to identify which of the occupants were wearing their safety harness.
Holt said the patrol will be looking into speed and other factors that may have caused the crash.
''All of the resources that we have we are pouring into this to get all of the answers that we possibly can,'' Holt said.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, who spent much of the day with families of the victims, said he's received numerous calls from residents, ''asking, 'what can I do to help',''
''I think that is reflective of our community and what I've been telling them and what I'm always going to tell them is keep them in your prayers, but not only for this week. They are going to need a lot of assistance for months and years to come,'' Franklin said.
Franklin also noted the crash happened a year and a week to the day of another tragedy, the death of four people in a house fire on Austin Avenue N.W.