By LISA CORNWELL
This photo provided by Indiana State Police shows the scene of a crash between two pick trucks that killed three teenagers Thursday, March 7, 2013 near Versailles, Ind. Sgt. Noel Houze said during a news conference Thursday that the six students involved in the crash attended South Ripley County High School in Versailles, a small community about 45 miles west of Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Indiana State Police)
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 four other students 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 only 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.
“These are all very, very tight communities and everyone knows everyone,” Katherine Taul, director of the Ripley County Tourism Bureau, said before the news conference. “So even if you weren’t directly connected or related to them, it still touches everybody.”
“Our community’s been hit by so many sad things lately,” Taul added.