The SUV that flipped and rolled off a northeastern Pennsylvania road last weekend, killing three Bucks County teenagers, was driven by a 15-year-old Pleasantville girl. Screen grab courtesy of WNEP-TV / Screen grab courtesy of WNEP-TV
LAKE ARIEL, PA. â?? Marie Drobnicki was in her back yard Saturday morning in this vacation community when she said she heard a car speeding down Goose Pond Road, and someone screaming out, "Slow down! Slow down!"
Then came the sickening sounds of a crash, before all fell silent.
Drobnicki, who has lived on the 5-acre property near Lake Wallenpaupack for 47 years, ran to the road, to "a horrific scene that I'll never forget."
On the edge of her property, a black Chevrolet Suburban lay on its side. Pinned underneath, a teen-aged boy lay dying, still in his seatbelt. Another boy had been thrown several feet from the car and was lying against a tree on her property; a third boy was in the middle of the road. Both were also fatally injured.
Two dazed teen-aged girls were wandering in the road, crying but not speaking.
As she gazed at the carnage, Drobnicki said, "I couldn't even think and I couldn't even talk. I was in shock... I feel so bad for the families of those boys. I'll never forget it."
Other motorists who had stopped to help yelled out to Drobnicki, who ran the 50 yards back to her house and called 911.
On Tuesday, authorities in Wayne County, Pa., announced that a 15-year-old Pleasantville, N.Y., girl had been behind the wheel of her father's car when it overturned.
The driver, whose name has not been released, suffered minor injuries as did two other passengers, a 16-year-old girl also from the Pleasantville area and a 15-year-old boy from Bucks County, Pa.
The dead boys were identified as Ryan Lesher, Shamus Digney and Cullen Keffer, all 15-year-old sophomores at Council Rock High School South in Bucks County.
Skid marks were still visible Wednesday on the hilly, winding, 2-lane road that has a posted speed limit of 40 mph.
Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said in a statement that the girl who was driving the car will be charged criminally, but did not say what the charges will be. The minimum age to obtain a learner's permit is 16 in both New York and Pennsylvania. Drivers with such permits are required by both states to be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 18 years old.
"When criminal charges are filed, they will be done so pursuant to the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act and under said law, criminal juvenile matters are not disclosed to the public," Edwards said.
She said said the Suburban was registered to the 15-year-old girl's father, who owns a home in the Wallenpaupack Lake Estates development, a private community in Lake Ariel.
It is believed the two Westchester girls drove to pick up the four boys at the development and then went to a local restaurant for breakfast.
On the way back, as the car was "traveling around a left hand curve, the vehicle's right tire traveled off the roadway and the vehicle flipped over more than one time," Edwards said. "A witness near the scene stated to investigators that he saw the vehicle just before the accident occurred and believed it to be traveling at a high rate of speed."
"The accident is still under investigation and search warrants have been executed for various items," Sgt. Paul Cavallaro of the Pennsylvania State Police said Wednesday. He would not elaborate.
Reached by email Tuesday, the district attorney would not say whether the girl's parents could be held criminally liable.
At the mailboxes outside Wallenpaupack Lake Estates, where the girl's father owns a home, Richard Lauda said he and others were surprised at the driver's age, but not that the car was speeding on Goose Pond Road, which he described as "a speedway."
"How could a 15-year old be driving?" asked Lauda, who has lived there for 10 years. "How could her parents let her drive?"
In a statement sent to parents on Wednesday, Pleasantville schools Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter wrote, "Our hearts, prayers and deepest condolences go out to the families who lost their sons. There are no words that can express the level of grief they are experiencing upon the loss of their boys. This is every parent's worst nightmare."
"Please be advised that we have no official word on the identities of the Pleasantville teens," she added. "Under the law, they are protected minors. With that said, please be assured that it is our role to support our students and to provide emotional and educational support. Our HS team met early this morning at 7 a.m. to review all protocols. Again our heartfelt sympathies and thoughts go out to all the families involved in this tragic car accident."
Contributing: Thane Grauel
Read the original story: Teens' fatal crash: Witness heard cries to 'slow down'