(Versailles, Ind.) - It was one of the most sorrowful days in the history of the South Ripley Community School Corporation.
Eagle 99.3 broke the story Thursday.
Six students, members of the South Ripley High School Future Farmers of America, were leaving a community breakfast when their two vehicles violently collided at a rural intersection.
"Devastating. They were great kids. Doing a great thing today participating in this event. Truly wonderful kids," Superintendent Rob Moorhead said emotionally at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
According to Indiana State Police, the students - Timothy W. Bowman, Jacob Vogel, Samantha Hansen, Thomas D. Crawford, Caleb M. Cumberworth, and Kayla Adkinson - had spent the morning participating in a Ripley County Soil and Water Conservation District breakfast at the Hopewell Baptist Church. They were permitted to drive themselves to the school function because it began at 6:00 a.m., before school hours, said Moorhead.
The event was supposed to last through the school day. For reasons still unknown to investigators and school officials, the six left the church at about 9:30 a.m., said ISP Sgt. Noel Houze. Bowman, 17, of Osgood, got behind the wheel of a Ford F-250 pickup truck with passenger Jacob Vogel, 18. Crawford, 17, of Dillsboro, drove off in a Dodge Ram with passengers Hansen, 18; Cumberworth, 15; and Adkinson, 15, all of Holton.
Shortly before 9:45, the two pickup trucks collided at the intersection of County Road 850 West and Fairgrounds Road, west of Osgood and not very far from the church. The two trucks then tumbled into a corn field, where a puddle of leaked antifreeze remained hours later.
The police investigation revealed that both vehicles ran the four-way stop sign. Police also believe speed was a contributor to the accident. Drugs or alcohol are not currently in consideration as factors, Houze said.
Three of the teens died at the scene: Bowman, Vogel, and Hansen. They were each wearing seatbelts.
The other tree were transported to Margaret Mary Community Hospital, Houze said. Crawford was later transferred to University Hospital in Cincinnati with chest injuries. Cumberworth was treated at MMCH for a minor injury to his hand. Adkinson was being treated for unknown injuries.
The accident remains under investigation. It had snowed in the area the day before, but investigators do not believe the roadways were icy. Police are waiting to interview the surviving victim to get more answers.
Following the accident, word began to spread back at the tight-knit high school - there are just 73 senior students - through text messages and Twitter. Rumors began to spread that the two pickups may have been racing back to a main road, but state police say that would only be considered speculation right now.
It made for a very difficult day, Moorhead said.
"This is a deep loss for the community as a whole," stated the first-year superintendent, adding that grief counselors will be on hand for students and staff at the schools for the next few days.
The Versailles Church of Christ has organized a vigil at the Versailles Gold Star Chili restaurant starting at 6:00 p.m. The vigil will then proceed to the church.
Eagle 99.3's Rob Lafary contributed to this story.