CRASH VICTIM--This undated photo shows Brandon Murray. Investigators spent Monday trying to piece together why eight teenagers were crammed into a speeding SUV without the owner’s permission when it flipped over into a pond, killing six of them, including Murray. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Murray Family)
by Dan Sewell
Associated Press Writer
A rapper everybody called “Butter.” An aspiring chef and pro wrestling fan. A fun-loving youth who volunteered to help neighbors and his community. A budding football star looking forward to next fall’s high school season.
All young dreams and lives that ended suddenly Sunday morning in a northeast Ohio town.
They were among five teen boys and a 19-year-old woman killed in a single-vehicle crash into a swampy pond that two other teens escaped. Police have been investigating the cause of the crash of an allegedly stolen Honda Passport that was reportedly going too fast.
Meanwhile, families and friends in Warren, Ohio, are mourning and remembering six lives cut short:
KIRKLAN M. BEHNER, 15
“He was well-known around the city,” his tearful mother, Deanna Behner, told WKBN-TV of Youngstown. “He may not have been the perfect kid. But he had a lot of friends.”
‘He always put a smile on people’s faces,” friend Marquis Gray, 15, told the Warren Tribune Chronicle.
Mayor Doug Franklin said at a Monday vigil for the teens that he hadn’t realized at first that he knew Kirklan from a community cleanup effort; he was the boy who was sweeping the streets alongside him.
Willard K-8 School sixth-grader Treona Crenshaw said Behner would also pitch in to shovel snow or carry groceries for anyone needing help.
“He was one of a kind. Everyone knew him in the neighborhood,” said Rickie Bowling, a friend of Kirklan. “In school, he always made everyone laugh.”
His grieving mother said: “I just want him to come home.”
ANDRIQUE BENNETT, 14
The moment Andrique was born, his golden brown skin and fat, dimpled cheeks made his father Andre Bennett Sr. think of a Butterball turkey fresh out of the oven. His nickname stuck, later shortened to “Butter.”
Born into a musical family, Andrique quickly developed his own talent. He became a rapper, recording numerous music videos with his close friend Brandon Murray, who also died in the crash.
With family members watching videos of Andrique rapping in his home Monday, Bennett said there wasn’t much to do around town for young people, but Andrique and his friends found ways to entertain themselves.
“It’s something they did all the time — go to the mall, go to the movies, then stay over with their friends,” Bennett said.
BRANDON MURRAY, 14
Brandon loved to cook, and planned to take cooking classes this summer. He said he wanted to become a chef and have his own restaurant, his mother Lisa Williamson said.
He liked playing football, and also playing football video games. And he was a big fan of pro wrestling on television and would try out wrestling moves on his close friend Ramone, who lived one block over. They would shake the whole house, his mother recounted.
Brandon was also studying to become a member of a Freemasons organization, said his mother, who was wearing a rubber “Jesus Loves You” bracelet that Brandon had on his wrist when he died.
“Every time I saw him, he was smiling,” said 16-year-old neighbor Jordan Killias.
RAMONE WHITE, 15
Murray’s mother told the Warren Tribune Chronicle that when she last saw the boys Saturday night, Brandon had on a Superman T-shirt and Ramone was wearing Batman T-shirt.
Ramone, Brandon and Andrique attended a church after-school program on Tuesdays that offered tutoring, Bible study and basketball.
“All they liked to do was get joy,” said Charbill Ervin, who worked at the program. “Film videos on their phone, talk and joke and clown and dance.”
Omar White said he hopes his son’s death will be a lesson for others.
“All I know right now is my son is gone,” White told the Tribune Chronicle. “I wouldn’t wish this on any parent.
“If any good comes of it, I hope it teaches people, helps people understand how valuable life is, how important your kids are, and that we have to do what we can to help these children before it’s too late.”
DAYLAN RAY, 15
Daylan played tailback, linebacker and cornerback and was ready to play high school football, said his father, Derrick Ray.
“He was my child, my boy, very gifted, very talented. I was amazed and shocked at the things he could do on a football field,” his father said.
Mariah Bryant, 12, said she had just found out last year that she was Daylan’s half-sister, and she liked to hang out with him at school.
“We just really started getting close, and it’s hard to believe that he’s gone,” she said.
She wrote a message she taped to a stuffed bear at the makeshift memorial to the six dead at the crash site.
She wrote: “I love you and miss you so much.”
ALEXIS SHALYNN CAYSON, 19:
An uncle, Tim Cayson, said Cayson leaves behind a 4-year-old son. Warren City Councilman Bob Dean said Cayson was his first cousin’s daughter, and that she should be admired for returning to high school to get her diploma after having a child.
“She was a happy-go-lucky girl,” Tim Cayson said Tuesday. “She loved to joke. She loved her family. She loved animals. She was just a sweet girl.”
A friend, Precious Stephenson, told police that Cayson had been living with her since last September and told her she’d lived in foster homes. Stephenson said she saw Cayson on Saturday night — asking if she needed help carrying some bags inside. The next morning, Stephenson said her brother Marquis woke her up to help look for Cayson and his missing Honda Passport — the vehicle police said was carrying eight young people when it crashed.
WKBN-TV recorded Cayson’s sister Ashia’s message to the community:
“I just want everybody to know, even if you’re going through something, pick up the phone and call. Tell them you love them, because you never know what could happen. Tomorrow is not promised to anybody.”
Sewell reported from Cincinnati. AP National Writer Jesse Washington and Associated Press Writer Thomas J. Sheeran contributed in Warren, Ohio.
Contact Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell