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.


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