2 Tahlequah Teens Riding In Truck Bed Killed In Crash
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - Two Tahlequah teens are dead after a truck they were riding in crashed early Saturday morning.
Five passengers were thrown from the vehicle. Four of those passengers were riding in the truck bed.
It's not uncommon to see people in the back of a pickup, and in Oklahoma it's perfectly legal for adults to do so. It's a different story, though, for kids.
A makeshift memorial now stands where Pettit Bay Road meets Indian Road, about six miles south of Tahlequah. It's the intersection where 19-year-old Paul Blevins, Jr. and 14-year-old Michael Rogers were killed around 3:45 Saturday morning.
"Obviously a rural setting, winding roadways and roads such as this, no shoulder, very rural, so that makes for a dangerous driving element," said Captain George Brown of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Brown said Blevins and Rogers were riding in the bed of a Ford pickup with 15-year-old Kasey Kelly and 16-year-old Haley Seal. Three men were in the cab of the truck, plus the driver, 22-year-old, Ryan Molina.
The accident report says Molina was driving fast and didn't stop at a stop sign.
Brown said the truck went into a broad slide and slammed into a tree.
One man inside the truck was thrown from the truck, along with the four teens riding in the truck bed. Blevins and Rogers were killed.
"Here we have two families, two grieving families, that are affected by this and that's not what we're in the business of," Brown said.
To ease the pain, Blevins' friends have taken to Facebook to remember him.
Meanwhile, Brown said there are no laws on the books to keep adults from riding in the bed of a truck. But he said it is against the law for children 13 and younger, who are required to be buckled up.
"Never a good idea to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. I can tell you through many years of experience and many injury and fatal collisions, that the vast majority of those were because people were ejected and did not have a seat belt on," Brown said.
The driver was the only person wearing a seat belt. Only one passenger walked away from the accident unharmed. The driver and four others were taken to hospitals. Everyone is expected be OK.
Troopers say they believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. The district attorney said, once the investigation is complete, charges are possible.