Sheriff: Teens Were ‘Hill Jumping’ Before Fatal Crash

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WCCO) — The Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office says a group of teens were “hill jumping” in their car prior to a crash that killed three of them last month.

The Dec. 20 crash killed 13-year-old McKenna Johnson, 14-year-old Austin Gable and 15-year-old Marco Perez. There were also two other teenagers in the car — 13-year-old Ulises Ponce and 16-year-old Felicia Bertrang.

Johnson was two months pregnant at the time of the crash.

“When you know they’re underage juveniles, that they’ve got the rest of their lives in front of them, it stopped that night for them because of some poor decisions,” said Eau Claire Sheriff Ron Cramer.

Authorities said the teens were trying to launch their car in the air for a thrill before the crash.

The sheriff’s office said the car was traveling at speeds over 80 miles per hour before it went airborne and crashed, coming to rest about 400 feet away at the bottom of a steep hill near the 6500 block of Walnut Road.

The car belonged to Bertrang. She gave Gable permission to drive the vehicle, and Eau Claire County authorities say she had a reputation of letting minors drive the car recklessly.

Gable’s family hopes that parents will use their loss as a lesson to control underage, and reckless driving.

“I don’t want other families to go through this,” said Gable’s grandfather Jerry Carpenter. “It’s just a minute existence, that’s all we’re doing is existing, and I don’t want any other family to go through this.”

This case has been forwarded to the district attorney’s office for possible charges against Bertrang. But Gable’s family says what they really want is an apology, and for her to admit what happened.

Toxicology results haven’t come back yet on Gable, but Eau Claire County authorities don’t have any reason to believe drugs were involved.

  • Billy

    Johnson was two month pregnant at age 13??? WOW

    • Stupid

      Yeah WOW is right. It’s almost better to not be born into something like that………

  • insignificant

    obvious parental oblivion here,eh?…good greif….with one o’ these young ones pregnant,even,it appears they were allowed to do whatever they wanted.

  • Who are you kidding?

    “Toxicology results haven’t come back yet on Gable, but Eau Claire County authorities don’t have any reason to believe drugs were involved.”

    Hill-jumping in a car, knocked up at age 13 – nope, no way is there any reason to believe that this group of geniuses would have anything to do with drugs.

    • Jay

      In WI drivers involved in deadly accidents are tested for drugs as part of inventigation. Through the investigation many classmates had been interviewed and they attested these teens did not use drugs.

      • James D

        I’m sure we can trust the word of the kids close enough to this bunch to know what they do or don’t do huh? The whole bunch seem like a bunch of honest kids. It’s legit.

    • Remember when the world seemed sane?


  • Benny

    I would call them “kids being kids” and hopefully they are angels now.

    • I agree...

      I did stupid things as a kid, and turned out very normal and successful. I could have easily ended up in a stupid accident with some of the other kids I hung out with; especially at that age. It’s ridiculous to condemn these kids, and pretend you are all better. I had great parents, but I was still able to get away with a lot. I knew more kids like this, than not; and I went to a great private high school. Sad for the parents.

      • ez

        Umm, sorry but I AM better. They were a bunch of irresponsible jerks and although it is unfortunate that they are dead now they brought it on themselves. The fact that a 13 year old was 2 month pregnant and trying to get a car airborne also speaks volumes about their parents. I had great parents who actually did their job, I was not able to get much past them. That is the point of being a parent, some people should never have children.

        • @ez

          You had nothing to get by them, you have to understand these kids had friends, you probably did homework every weekend until you were 18, unpopular people like you had no chance to rebel you had no friends that had fun.

          • anti bachmann

            that is funny you are right on ez probably never left her parents side cause she was a loner

          • @ae

            That’s why he is still alive, and has intelligent reasoning.

          • Brett

            @ @ez, Yeah, and look how ez turned out, he/she is STILL ALIVE. Probably had more brains TOO, along with not becoming a parent before the age of *15*. It’s called MATURITY. Some people NEVER reach that stage.

        • So Humble

          Your great parents obviously missed on a whole bunch of accounts!

        • @ez

          Wow where did it state the 13 year old demanded they try to jump the road as you implied? listen ez it’s cool you had no friends and no life in HS but some did, and in some cases they can’t control the driver of the car their riding in.

          • Brett

            Then you shouldn’t get IN THE CAR with such a bunch of IDIOTS. Better to STAY HOME and STAY ALIVE than to GET KILLED.

            • @ Brett

              Sadly, those of us who can still think rationally as you and id as children, now seem a minority. There is too much spawning by substance abusers, bringing mentally challenged innocents into the world that are probably doomed to this behavior. We can’t have a conversion with that type either, as there are holes in their brains.

            • anti bachmann

              brett you must of been friends with ez you talk just like her (loners)

              • Brett

                No, I just don’t blindly jump in a carload of LOSERS, waiting to helplessly KILLED.

              • Sonjay

                I’m glad you support more 13 year old pregnancies and less supervision! Now if all these POPULAR people will continue to end their lives I won’t have to worry if a car is careening over a hill at 80 mph. Because I’m sure they made sure no one else was on the other side.

  • Billy

    Dawrin award winners here for sure.

  • Common Sense

    Natural Selection

  • Kathy

    Obviously their parents did not care about them… well at least their in a better place now, amen

    • Bugs

      “A better place”? Where might that be? Darwin heaven with all their thousands of fellow losers?

  • bluefaery

    to kathy and benny … “in a better place now” yeah cause they got where they are by going to church right??

  • Linda

    Oh, come on, they were kids – I guess I don’t think they were “worthless humans”. We all do some very dumb things in our lives – and fortunately most of us live to talk about it. I’m sorry for these young people and their families – messed up or not, they were still someone’s children!

  • fed up with stupid responses

    Reading most of the posts above is a clear fact of why our society is in the shape it’s in. Some very stupid and uncalled for responses. These were kids being kids. I guess the parents are suppose to be attached to their kids by a leash at all times? It’s a tragic event that don’t warrant most of the responses. I would guess that most who posted have no kids, and if they do must be perfect. You don’t know all the facts, so why speculate? I have done this very same thing as a kid, sober! just looking for laughs and a good time.

    • Brett

      Maybe we should let a bunch of 13 and 14 year olds jump into a SEMI and allow them to barrel down the road at 80 mph in a blizzard, because one or more of them thinks that it would be ‘a lot of fun’. Has NOTHING to do with ‘perfection’. It has EVERYTHING to do with JUDGEMENT. Laughs and a good time? What if they had crashed HEAD ON with a family in a minivan and killed all of THEM TOO?? At 80 mph, it would not have been pretty.

  • X-Puffer

    Stupid parents period.

    • SSGT (Ret.)

      Where were the parents? How many parents let their children get knocked up at age 13? How many let their children go and drive at age 14 or 15? (thought there was a law about this) If they had surviied how would they explain how they ruined the car? ‘Yup ma and pa I am sorry about the car we were out trying to jump that hill and just had to many kids in the car'” Oh and that smell that was just a bit of ditch weed we had” Sounds like these parents need some parent skills them selfs. Can’t wait to hear about all the wrongful death law suites that come out of this.

  • Bruce Wayne

    “Johnson was two months pregnant at the time of the crash”…really at 13

  • Hopefully not average

    Do most kids these days drive underage without a license, or let their friends do so in their car? Or drive at over 80 mph for thrills? Or get sexually involved/pregnant at 13? I hope not! I feel sorry for the families. But where are the parents?

    • Matt

      is it average to have sex with your parents watching?

      • Brett

        Apparently, in the rural area of Eau Claire, IT IS.

  • Bob's Auto Body

    Bring that car in, those scratches will buff right out.

    • Sue

      lol is it wrong that i laughed out loud at this?
      But, seriously, very sad. I do agree, kids being kids.

  • Little Tin God

    These kids are proof positive why some people shouldn’t breed. At least they won’t pass on their defective genes. Except maybe for the two who survived. Too bad.

  • northern minnesota

    Johnson being 13 and two months pregnant. What does this have to do with the story? They sure made sure that everyone knew this. Big deal.

    • Forest Gump

      Well, they are just pointing out that there was another victim in stupid accitent.

      momma always said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Couldn’t apply more here.

  • G Dog

    The deaths of these kids so young is a tragedy, but is also a lesson in risk taking behavior by kids who have poor parental supervision. You who posted about how they deserved it, or Darwinism should be ashamed of your cold, inhuman comments.
    Rocky, Billy, Common Sense, look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are so superior to this tragic loss of life. These kids may have taken risks that seem unfathomable to you, but to be so calloused says a lot more about you than anything else.

  • devel

    It has everything to do with the accident, it shows the kid(s) were not responsible people. could care less about other ppl, and what goes on…also they could have hit another car killing a entire family….Preg at 13 means (to me) a Ho at 11 or 12, u think maybe she did it once and got preggy? come on…….

  • An Involved Parent

    I’ve worked with juveniles who have ‘made stupid choices’. And yes, to a degree it’s just kids being kids, and a lack of parental supervision. For the story to state that the girl whose car it was was known for letting underage kids drive it says alot. This was not the first time that someone, maybe even this bunch of kids, went joyriding and did something stupid. It just happened that this time was the last. They could have been good kids, unless you knew them personally you can’t speculate that. But a 13 yr old being pregnant by a 14 yr old boy tells us that there was a lack of supervision somewhere. These kids clearly needed something to occupy their time other than illegal driving and having underage sex! It’s horrible when children have children. It’s horrible when children die. But what is even more horrible in this society is that parents don’t care enough to stay involved in their children’s lives to know where they are, what they are doing, who they spend time with. As a parent, I make it a point to keep in contact with my kids, to know what is going on in their lives. Apparently not every parent takes that kind of time or we wouldn’t see the high incidence of teenage pregnancy, death, and delinquency that this world is faced with. I’m sorry that these families had to go through this so close to the holidays. And one bad choice changed the lives of many families that night. But it also kept the state of WI from having to pay for yet another welfare baby. It sickens me that the families of these kids have the audacity to start a fund up so that people can contribute money to them to help pay for the funeral costs, etc. Your child, your responsibility! Don’t expect others to pay for your mistakes.

  • Lou

    Things happen for a reason and sometimes things happen for a good reason…..At least they will never be able to breed and spread there breeds like a disease…

  • Ellen

    i can’t believe all the people who are putting all the blame on the parents. when it comes down to it these kids felt they were old enough to make their own decisions. haven’t you covered up what you were doing from your parents? Parents can do the best they can to do the right things but it is up to them what they actually do once they are out of their sight. Is a pastor a horrible parent if their kid smokes or drinks underage. i’m from a loving home and i can say that my parents were there for everything and i still went behind their backs and smoked, drank, etc. and it was nobody’s fault but my own. you can’t place the blame on the parents unless you have been in their house and seen how it was ran.

    • Brett

      Ah, at the age of 13 or 14 I wasn’t drinking, doing dope, having sex, or driving a carload of other teens at 80 mph WITHOUT A LICENSE to DRIVE. I may have been stupid, but I wasn’t THAT STUPID. Maybe it was because I actually WAS SMARTER, or maybe it was because I FEARED what might happen to me if my parents actually caught me doing ONE of those STUPID THINGS….. Maybe it was because I had some REAL parents, not just a couple of older ‘friends’.

      • Ellen

        i never said that my parents were just a couple of friends, if they would have caught me i would have been in a lot of trouble not just a little scolding. when you are with a bigger group and one person has an idea it might just be a stupid idea that they were just thinking but the more people say yeah that sounds fun they might feel like they have to own up to their words. good parents end up with kids who are rebellious too. so you didn’t do stupid things to this extreme good for you but you can’t judge people without knowing the whole situation that’s all i am saying.

        • Brett

          WHAT don’t we know about this WHOLE SITUATION?? Please enlighten US.

  • Ellen

    you shouldn’t be condemning the parents you should feel sorry for them you can’t even imagine how hard it is to have to bury your child no matter how much of a trouble maker they were when it comes down to it your child is your child

  • Rochelle

    SHAME ON EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU! Pregnant at 13 calling her names? Talking about the parent! Talking about they deserve! Talking about another welfare baby! SHAME SHAME SHAME! this conversation is pathetic! Im sure EVERYONE on her has done something dumb as a teenager! at the time of doing it im sure you werent thinking what could have been the outcome!! im sure it was the same for them!! Im sure EVERYONE on here has told some sort of LIE to your parents! as probably what they did! SHAME ON EVERYONE TO TALK DOWN ABOUT THESE CHILDREN!

    • lol

      Cleaning the Gene Pool out.

  • Kay

    I am the mother of 5 and when my children were 13, I knew where they were at all times. I even worked nights while my husband worked during the day so that they were never home alone and unsupervised. My kids weren’t perfect but none of them ended up pregnant at 13 (or 14, 15, etc.). As far as the car and driving go, I’m trying to figure out how the driver’s family feels they are owed an apology. I doubt anyone put a gun to his head and made him drive. Plenty of blame to go around regarding a really tragic accident.

    • Ellen

      good for you for being a family with 5 kids and having a parent home at any given time. but i come from a family of 5 kids. my mom was a stay at home parent and my dad worked days so that he would be home in the evening. my parents were there and things still happened. i told lies to my parents and they thought they were true and believed me. they would drop me off somewhere and be there to pick me up 5 hours later not knowing that once they left so did we but we made sure we were back in time for pickup. am i saying what i did was right no not at all. i am saying that kids pull the wool over parents eyes all the time. if they aren’t there holding their hand all the time you really don’t know what your kids are doing.
      the blame doesn’t go on the parents the blame goes on the fact that young kids think they are invisible and nothing is going to happen to them. i know i sure did when i was young and looking back know i don’t have a clue how i made it into adulthood.

    • Brett

      Thank you, Kay, for saying something that actually makes sense. I’d say let’s start with the 16 year old, who had a license, who allowed the 14 year old to get behind the wheel…..who survived.

  • Brett

    OK, that’s IT. I’m tired of hving my moderate expressions bening CENSORED, and it’s getting REALLY STUPID. 3 young people just DIED. I want to know WHO will hold those accountable (likek the 16 year old who had a licence wno SURVIVIED, along with the INSURANCE COMPANIES, who are trying to run like hell from paying out any claims from this ‘no fault’ accident.

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