Coroner says all 6 Warren teens died of drowning - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Coroner says all 6 Warren teens died of drowning

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Trumbull County accident scene Trumbull County accident scene

Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germanuik said the autopsies of the six teenagers that died in the deadliest accident in Trumbull County history all died of drowning. He also ruled the deaths accidental. Germanuik said toxicology reports would take eight weeks.

The driver of the SUV that crashed Sunday in Warren, killing six teenagers and injuring two others in the deadliest crash in Trumbull County history, was driving about 80 miles per hour while swerving across the road, according to statements to investigators released Tuesday.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol crash report says Alexis Cayson, 19, of 7th Street S.W., was not suspected of using drugs and alcohol, was distracted and that she did not have a valid driver's license.

One of the survivors, Asher C. Lewis, 15, told investigators it felt like Cayson was driving 80 miles per hour and was swerving across the empty roadway. The other survivor, Brian Henry, 18, of Milton Street, told investigators and reporters he asked Cayson to slow down before she veered left of center at about 7 a.m. Sunday and struck a guardrail on Niles Warren River Road.

"The lady driving was playing around when she was driving," Lewis wrote in a statement to investigators. "She was swerving and speeding. I think she was driving like that on purpose but I'm not sure why. It felt like she was driving like 80 miles per hour."

The vehicle overturned, flipped into a nearby pond and immersed in five feet of water. Henry broke out a window with his elbow, struggled to free his feet which were entangled with seatbelts and climbed out while the vehicle was filling with water.

Lewis said he blacked out and woke up when Henry was breaking the window. He said he followed him out of the vehicle. Henry then yelled the names of the others before swimming ashore and running a quarter-mile to find help.

Cayson; Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan M. Behner, 15; Daylan Ray, 15; Brandon A. Murray, 14; and Ramone M. White, 15, were all killed in the crash. Most of them were friends and knew each other because they lived in the same east side neighborhood. It was the deadliest crash in Ohio in the last three years.

Lewis and Henry ran to Jeremy Kimble's 1632 Burton St. home to try and get help. Kimble in a statement said Henry was covered in blood and Lewis in mud when they arrived at his door. The two told him "everyone had died" and asked to call 911. Kimble said he went Bennett's family's home to tell them about the accident.

Jacklyn Kimble called 911 and asked for an ambulance for the boys, according to 911 tapes released Tuesday. A worker from nearby Stericycle called 911 dispatchers and reported the SUV was upside down in the pond, that he saw two sets of footprints and that he was unsure if anyone else was in the SUV. Dispatchers called Kimble back and asked if anyone was with the two, and they said at least four others were still in the car.

Lewis and Henry told investigators that they were at another friend's house on Maple Street when Bennett called and said he could give them a ride back to their homes.  

Reports said Cayson took the keys to the SUV from her roommate's brother, who said Cayson took the keys from his jacket after he fell asleep and went looking for the keys and Cayson when he woke up for work at about 8:45 a.m. Sunday.

Parents of the deceased said they believe the group was headed back to the area from a party and were trying to get back before anyone noticed.

OSHP investigators said they will not theorize about what happened and would instead release information after they properly investigated the claims.

Trumbull County Coroner Humphrey Germanuik drew Cayson's and the other's blood and sent it to be analyzed for drugs and alcohol, a process that could take about six weeks.

The report says none of the occupants were wearing seatbelts. Lewis told investigators Bennett sat on his lap during the ride because there were only room for five in the vehicle. He also said someone he didn't know, likely White, was riding in the back compartment area of the SUV.

Cayson suffered bruising to the chest and stomach area, reports said, and Germanuik said it was likely caused by her torso striking the steering wheel.

The SUV was reported stolen Monday by the owner, Marquis Stephenson, 32, of Youngstown. He told Warren police his car was stolen from a parking lot at 2053 N. Feederle Drive S.E. at about 3 a.m.

Stephenson told investigators he was spending the night at his sister's home. He said Cayson took his keys without his permission around 4 a.m. He said when he woke up he looked for his keys to drive to work but noticed his SUV and keys were gone.

He said he went looking for her, making calls and knocking on doors in the neighborhood, before he was told by Cayson's family she was in an accident. Stephenson said he was unsure why she wanted to take the vehicle or why so many people were in the car. 

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