HAMILTON, Ohio - Two teens face vehicular homicide and other charges after a suspected street race in stolen vehicles resulted in the death of a 14-year-old girl.
Hamilton police formally charged a 16-year-old male and his 15-year-old friend Thursday after the early morning wreck claimed the life of Nicole Denney two days earlier.
Both teens teens face aggravated vehicular homicide receiving stolen property charges — both felonies — along with misdemeanor charges of reckless operation, driving without a license and drag racing, according to Sgt. Ed Buns of the Hamilton Police Department.
WCPO, a Scripps TV station in Cincinnati, is not releasing the name of either suspect due to their age.
The 16-year-old, Denney's boyfriend, was speeding in a 1994 Toyota Camry about 1 a.m. Tuesday when he made contact with the vehicle driven by the 15-year-old, lost control of the car and crashed into a tree, according to Hamilton police.
Forensic investigators believe the cars were traveling in excess of 50 mph at the time of the crash.
A man who identified himself as Jody called dispatchers, stating, “This one kid just took off running that was driving and there’s a girl trapped in the car.”
He talked to Denney telling her to be calm and asking her name, according to the Journal-News.
“Can you hear me? Are you conscious? What is your name?” he said on the recording. “She is just making noises.”
Later the man tells the dispatcher, “She is barely breathing,” and describes the driver he saw running. He added there had to be more people involved who also fled because there was a minivan at the scene.
It took rescue teams two hours to extricate Denney from the car. The Hopewell Junior High School student was pronounced dead once she was freed, according to reports.
Buns described the crash as horrendous.
"I can tell you I’ve been doing this 35 years -- this is one of the most totally destroyed cars I've ever seen,” Buns said. “The tree came in through the passenger side door."
Police say Denney's boyfriend, who did not have a driver's license, sustained back and internal injuries and possibly a broken wrist.
There were some reports suggesting the teen fled the scene after the wreck. However, police say he returned to the scene some time later. He is cooperating with the investigation, Buns said.
While some of the details surrounding what led up to the crash are unclear, investigators say they believe the 15-year-old male stole both cars involved in the traffic incident.
One of the cars was stolen from a home in the 2900 block of Gateway Drive in Fairfield Township, according to investigators.
The owner of the vehicle, Andrew Carlson, was unaware his vehicle had been stolen from the parking lot when officers arrived at his home around 4 a.m. to inform him.
Buns said at the press conference investigators believe the 15-year-old's family is "working to protect him," claiming him parents have not been cooperating and had the intention of taking their son out of state before he was arrested Wednesday morning near Harmon Avenue.
The 15-year-old is in the Butler County juvenile detention center after being picked up on a parole violation, while the 16-year-old remained hospitalized at West Chester Medical Center as of Thursday afternoon.
Buns said the two teens will appear in Butler County Juvenile Court, but he could not immediately specify a date. He said Hamilton police have been working closely with Fairfield Twp. and the Ohio State Highway Patrol on this case.
Decisions on whether the suspects will be charged as minors or adults is up to the Butler County prosecutor.