7 Millington middle schoolers die in crash - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

7 Millington middle schoolers die in crash

Michael Fradella (Source: Family) Michael Fradella (Source: Family)
Samantha Stawizynski (Source: Family) Samantha Stawizynski (Source: Family)
Trey Hanna (Source: Family) Trey Hanna (Source: Family)
Lauren Sutherland (Source: Family) Lauren Sutherland (Source: Family)
Jessica Wallace (Source: Family) Jessica Wallace (Source: Family)

A car driven by a 15-year-old with a learner's permit went airborne early Sunday and hit a tree, killing him and all six other teens in the vehicle, police said.

Relatives said the driver, Michael Fradella, had taken his father's keys while family members were asleep.

Steve Shular, the spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, said that investigators believe the westbound car was traveling at high speed and went airborne after topping a small hill.

A motorist came upon the wreckage at 2:30 a.m.

All died at the scene.

The black Mazda Protege left no skid marks and went off the south side of a two-lane road in a semi-rural area.

Other victims were identified as Samantha Stawizynski, 15; Trey Hanna, 15; Lauren Sutherland, 15; Jessica Wallace, 13; Crystal Smith, 13; and Eric Sansone, 14. They were all students at Millington Middle School.

The four girls had been at a slumber party at Crystal's Smith's home, Shular said.

The girls were in the care of Crystal's grandmother, who was not identified.

The girls apparently locked the bedroom door behind them and left through a window.

Michael Fradella's brother, Joe Fradella said, "I woke up about 5 o'clock and my dad said, 'I can't find your brother. We need to go look for him.' He had taken the keys to my dad's car while everyone was asleep, around 2 or 2:30. I guess he went out and scooped up his friends."

When they called Michael's cell phone, a police officer answered.

Tennessee law requires those with learner's permits who are under 18 to be accompanied by a parent, stepparent, grandparent or legal guardian who must ride in the front seat.

Such adults must have a valid driver's license.

John Launius, a school teacher at Crosspointe Baptist Church, where he had taught some of those killed, visited the site Sunday to pay his respects.

"They were good kids. A lot of kids loved them," he said, wiping away tears.

There was no evidence of alcohol use, Shular said.

Routine toxicological tests were ordered.

Millington is just north of Memphis in Shelby County.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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