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Fatal crash victim was 'bright, kind'

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A Seymour teenager killed in a wreck Wednesday near the Shields­town Covered Bridge was remembered fondly by her sister.

“She enjoyed music and loved animals,” Sam­antha Fowler said Thursday of her younger sister, Brooke Hawn.

Hawn, who would have been 17 on Dec. 17, was a passenger in a two-door Mitsubishi driven by Tyler Ross, 18, of Seymour on County Road 250E. Ross has been charged with reckless homicide as a result of the crash.

Investigators report the vehicle went into the East Fork White River and landed on its top about 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Ross and Brett Sparks, 19, of Seymour escaped through broken windows, swam to the river bank and called for help from a nearby house, police report. Both men were injured but reportedly did not receive life-threatening injuries.

Conservation Officer Jim Schreck said because the vehicle had flipped over, investigators are unsure where Hawn and Sparks were seated when the accident occurred.

Indiana Conservation Officer Nathan Berry said none of the three was wearing a seat belt.

Ross also was charged with operating a vehicle without ever having received a license.

Berry said while toxicology tests were conducted after the incident, it does not appear drugs or alcohol were involved.

Schreck said the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department traffic accident investigation team determined speed and reckless driving were key contributing factors in the crash.

The preliminary cause of death has been determined to be chest injuries, hypothermia and drowning, Wheeler said. He said there is no reason to believe the injuries were caused by anything other than the wreck.

Hawn was a student in Seymour High School’s alternative school. As a junior, she had plans to go on to college to study information technology, teacher Robin Cummings said.

“She had a clear plan,” Cummings said. “She was a bright girl and very kind. I think she would have been able to do it and enjoy it.”

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