Teenager Without License Driving Six Siblings to First Day of School Crashes, Killing Three

A Phoenix 16-year-old without a driver's license was driving his six siblings to their first day back at school on Monday when he crashed the car, killing three of his young brothers.

Phoenix police detectives believe the 16-year-old may have been impaired when he swerved the minivan into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another vehicle, killing that driver, too.

Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump says the minivan was seen going down Southern Avenue "at a high rate of speed," while passing vehicles on the right, at a point where two lanes narrowed to one.

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The 16-year-old driver overcorrected while trying to get back into the lane and swerved into oncoming traffic, hitting a vehicle being driven by 31-year-old Matthew Dejarnett. Although the airbags deployed in Dejarnett's vehicle and he was wearing a seatbelt, he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

In the van being driven by the 16-year-old, it appears that none of the kids was wearing a seatbelt, police say, and that led to several of the kids being ejected from the van.

One of the children was pronounced dead at the scene, and two more were pronounced dead at the hospital. Crump says the 16-year-old driver and two more of the children have "incapacitating injuries," while yet another child is in critical condition.

The children who died were Dominic Johnson, 4; Mikquan Johnson, 5; and Jaymon Hamilton 11. The child in critical condition is 3 years old.

Crump says detectives found signs of impairment in the driver -- whose name hasn't been released -- and his blood was obtained by police, with a warrant.

"The investigation is ongoing and will be under review," Crump says in an e-mail.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley