Police: 2 teens killed in SUV crash weren't wearing seat belts

The Council Rock South High School community attend a viewing for Cullen Keffer, one of the 15-year-old boys killed in the car crash last weekend. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )
The Council Rock South High School community attend a viewing for Cullen Keffer, one of the 15-year-old boys killed in the car crash last weekend. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )
Posted: September 05, 2014

Two of the three Bucks County teenagers killed in an SUV crash last weekend apparently were not wearing seat belts when the vehicle flipped multiple times off a northeastern Pennsylvania road, police said Wednesday.

The third victim died despite wearing his seat belt, police said, but a fourth passenger, also a student at Council Rock South High School, was unbuckled in the vehicle and escaped with minor injuries.

As accident reconstruction experts continued their investigation, State Police also confirmed that the driver, an unlicensed 15-year-old from New York who may have been speeding, will be charged in juvenile court.

When and with what was unclear. Maria Finn, a State Police spokeswoman, said charges might not be filed for weeks.

The crash, about a mile from Wallenpaupack Lake Estates in Wayne County, killed 15-year-olds Cullen Keffer, Shamus Digney, and Ryan Lesher, all sophomores at Council Rock South. Three other teens in the Chevrolet Suburban - including the driver, her front-seat passenger, and the fourth boy from Council Rock - were treated and released from area hospitals.

On Wednesday evening, scores of classmates and friends walked from the high school in lower Bucks County to a nearby funeral home in Richboro for Keffer's viewing. It was the first of four days of viewings and funerals for the boys.

Police said drugs or alcohol did not appear to have been a factor in the crash, although they have executed search warrants to obtain medical records of the driver. Speed, however, may have been a factor. Witnesses have said the SUV was moving at a high rate of speed.

Police have not identified the driver, and Finn said she had not been detained. The girl is from around Westchester County, the Wayne County district attorney said this week. Her father owns a lake house in the area and is the SUV's registered owner, authorities say.

Lesher's parents also own a house in the development, although it is not clear if he and the three other Council Rock students had been staying there.

Police said the driver and a 16-year-old girl, also from New York, had gone to a local restaurant with the boys Saturday and were in the front seat of the vehicle when the rollover occurred.

The driver did not have a New York license, though it was unclear whether she had a learner's permit, Finn said. The driver and her front-seat passenger wore seat belts.

As the SUV slipped and flipped on a sharp downhill turn, two of the boys in the backseat were ejected, indicating they were probably not wearing seat belts, police said. They did not identify which two. The third boy who died was wearing his seat belt.

The surviving Council Rock student was seated in the third row of the SUV and was not wearing a seat belt, police said.

Classes resumed for all students at Council Rock South on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the lakeside development was nearly deserted.


lmccrystal@phillynews.com

610-313-8116

@Lmccrystal

Staff writers Chris Palmer and Ben Finley contributed to this article.

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