None of the six teenagers that died last month in the deadliest crash in Trumbull County history had drugs or alcohol in their system.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt said Thursday toxicology reports showed no one, including the two teenagers who survived the crash, had drugs or alcohol in their system and that no alcohol was found in the vehicle.
“In the hours prior to the crash, we know each of the occupants were at numerous locations in the city of Warren, including Francis Street, Todd Avenue and Colonial Street,” said Holt. “Other people had been in the vehicle at various times, but the stated occupants were the only people in the car when the crash occurred.”
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin was with the families of the victims when the toxicology report was released.
“I believe this was the first time the families have been together, to my knowledge, since the incident. It was pretty emotional. I would sense that there was a degree of relief,” said Franklin.
Reports said the driver, Alexis Cayson, 19, of 7th Street S.W., was driving at about 80 miles per hour, was distracted and without a valid driver’s license when she crashed an SUV she was not authorized to be driving into a pond at about 7 a.m. March 10 on Niles Warren River Road.
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. No one was wearing seatbelts.
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.
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.
Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germanuik ruled all six died from drowning. He also ruled the deaths accidental.
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.
The SUV was reported stolen the following day 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.