VERSAILLES, Ind. - The teenage driver admitted guilt for his role in a Ripley County crash that led to three high school students' deaths and will spend time at a youth facility for the crime.
Judge Carl Taul sentenced 17-year-old Thomas Crawford to 90 days in the Cedar Ridge Youth Center in Muncie, Ind. Taul ruled to suspend Crawford's license until he is 21 years old and placed him on probation until he is 21, too.
In court, Crawford admitted to his juvenile charges of reckless driving and reckless homicide in the crash that caused the deaths of 18-year-old Jacob Vogel, along with the other driver, 17-year-old Timothy Bowman, and 18-year-old Samantha Hansen. Crawford and two other classmates were injured in the crash.
Mary Hansen said there is no punishment that could take away the pain of her daughter, Samantha Hansen's death.
"There is no justice in this, there is no punishment that could make us feel better because no matter what, our loved ones will not come hack to us," she said.
On March 7, Crawford was driving his truck more than 80 mph when he crashed into another classmate's truck while speeding to beat him to the intersection of Fairground Road and Country Road 850 W in Osgood, prosecutors said. The trucks were carrying six students from South Ripley High School, three of whom died following the crash.
Investigators said Crawford sped up to get to a four-way stop before Bowman. Both vehicles disregarded the stop sign before they collided, investigators added. Earlier that fateful morning, Crawford's truck nearly hit a school bus picking up children.
Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel said Crawford is not the victim; the families of the students who died are the victims.
"This wasn't kids being kids, this was recklessness on the part of Crawford," Hertel said.
Crawford will report to the Ripley County Jail on May 28 and will then be transported to Cedar Ridge Youth Center to serve his time.
"I wish there was something I could say or do," Taul said about his decision. "I'm just glad that I'm not in your shoes."
9 On Your Side's Tom McKee contributed to this report.
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