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Wrongful-death lawsuit over Ohio crash that killed 6 teens alleges improper road maintenance

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A wrongful-death lawsuit accuses local officials of not properly maintaining the northeast Ohio road where a one-vehicle crash killed six Warren teenagers.

Investigators determined a sport utility vehicle sped down a two-lane road at nearly twice the 35-mph speed limit, then flipped into a pond in Warren on March 10, 2013. The 19-year-old driver and five of the seven boys riding with her were killed in the early morning crash.

Relatives of three of the boys — Andrique Bennett, 14, and Kirklan Behner and Daylan Ray, both 15 — sued the city and Trumbull County on Friday, seeking at least $25,000 in compensatory damages. The lawsuit says the vehicle flipped after the driver lost control and struck a guardrail that wasn't properly cared for along County Road 69.

Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Danso, whose office is the county's legal counsel, said Tuesday the lawsuit will be reviewed by the county's insurance provider. He declined to comment further because the case is pending.

Officials in Warren, a blue-collar city about 50 miles southeast of Cleveland, also will discuss the case with insurance providers, said Gregory Hicks, the city law director.

"We understand this is a terrible tragedy that happened, but ... our duty is to represent the city," Hicks said.

Investigators determined the teens were at various homes in the hours before the crash and that the driver, Alexis Cayson, had been driving recklessly and didn't have a valid license.

A 15-year-old boy who survived the crash told a state trooper that Cayson had been swerving and speeding and said he believed she did it intentionally, though he wasn't sure why.

Investigators found no evidence that anyone interfered with Cayson's driving in a way that would have caused her to lose control. Toxicology tests showed no sign of drugs in her system.

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