VERSAILLES, Ind. (AP) — Three teenagers who had left a school function early were killed Thursday when their pickup trucks collided at a rural intersection in southeastern Indiana, police and school officials said.
The two-vehicle crash involved six students from South Ripley High School in the small town of Versailles, about 45 miles west of Cincinnati. The students had the day off of school to attend a Future Farmers of America event at a rural church, but they left the daylong event around 9:30 a.m. after serving breakfast to local agriculture officials, Superintendent Rob Moorhead said.
Police believe both drivers ran a four-way stop and their trucks collided at a right angle, with the larger dual-wheel Dodge truck hitting the smaller Ford F-250 broadside. Three of the teenagers died at the scene, and the others were taken to local hospitals, Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houze said.
Those killed were identified as the driver of the Ford F-250, 17-year-old Timothy Bowman of Osgood, and his passenger, 18-year-old Jacob Vogel of Versailles. A passenger in the other pickup, 18-year-old Samantha Hanson of Holton, also was killed.
Investigators don't know why the teenagers left the event early. The conditions of the three students who survived weren't immediately released.
Moorhead said officials at the high school, which has about 370 students, called students into the gym to tell them about the crash. Teachers also were briefed.
"It's completely devastating to the people at the school," Moorhead said.
The fatal crash was the latest in handful of recent tragedies in Versailles, a town of about of 2,000 people. In the last year and a half, an 18-year-old girl died after crashing her car while texting, a 15-year-old girl was killed while riding an all-terrain vehicle, and a popular teacher died in a plane crash. A 71-year-old man who was injured when a tornado hit the area last year recently died from injuries he sustained in the storm.
"There has just been so much tragedy here," said Holton resident Lori McNeelan, one of dozens of people who packed a restaurant where Hanson had worked for an impromptu vigil.
A makeshift memorial set up on a counter at one end of the restaurant featured a photo of Hanson with about 100 tea lights clustered around it. Teenagers and parents embraced as they reflected on the victims.
Kayla Little, 17, said Hanson "always had a smile on her face."
"There was never a day that went by that you couldn't just go up to her and talk to her about anything," she said, choking up.
"This community will pull together like it always does," said Holly Leach, 35, of Versailles.
Associated Press writer Charles Wilson in Indianapolis contributed to this story.