Vigil held for teens killed in rollover crash on I-35 - New York News

Vigil held for teens killed in rollover crash on I-35

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BURNSVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) -

Friends and loved ones of two Minnesota teenagers who died in a rollover crash on Tuesday plan to gather at Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

Five friends were riding in a 1992 Toyota Camry near Buck Hill when witnesses said the car began swerving at high speeds. The Minnesota State Patrol said the 17-year-old driver, Josh Decoteau, lost control and the car rolled, crashing into a guardrail on Interstate 35.

Two teens -- 17-year-old Alesha Roehl and 16-year-old Fred Alexander -- were killed in the crash.

Friends told FOX 9 News the teens may have been horsing around before the crash. Two were not wearing their seat belts at the time, and two were ejected. The other three teens suffered minor injuries.

The crash site along the interstate is now a memorial site. Friends and family members have been coming by to remember -- including the sister of one of the victims, who is urging teens to drive safely and buckle up.

"He just said, 'I'm leaving. I'm going to go hang out,'" Gabby McClenny recalled, speaking about her last conversation with her brother, Alexander. "I said, 'OK' and 'be back.'"

Those were the last words she spoke to him, but she said she knows her brother so well that she doesn't need an accident report to tell her what happened.

"Playing around with friends, reckless driving, no seatbelt -- and they went off the road," she said.

Even some who passed by the crash on Tuesday night, like Louellen Lillemo, felt compelled to return and pray.

"I'm praying for young drivers, for teenagers -- praying for redemption of this land where such a tragedy happened," she said.

Friends of the victims say the true tragedy of the crash is that it was an undeniably preventable one.

"This shouldn't have happened," said Tristen Dahlstrom, a senior at Lakeville South High School. "Stupid things like this -- it could have been prevented."

Investigators with the state patrol say there shouldn't have been five young people in the car because Decoteau had only had his license for a month -- and statistics show the odds of teens getting into an accident skyrocket when more than one passenger is in the car.

"The risk of death with a teen driver with one passenger goes up about 40 percent," Gordy Pehrson, of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, told FOX 9 News. "When you add two passengers, teen passengers, in the mix, it goes up -- doubles, at least. When you add three or more passengers, it quadruples."

Under Minnesota law, teen drivers can only have one passenger in the car for the first six months of their provisional license.

"Don't have more than one person in the car," McClenny urged. "Always wear a seat belt. Just be safe in the car. The seat belt can save your life."

The provisional license restrictions were put in place in 2008, and they state that teen drivers can only have one passenger under the age of 20 who is not a parent, guardian, or family member in the car with them during their first six months on the road. Only three passengers under 20 are allowed in the second six months.

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