Multiple fatalities in high-speed, fiery crash in Kalamazoo Township

All five people in the car died at the scene.

UPDATE Sept. 5: Authorities have identified all five victims involved in the fatal Sept. 2 crash: Marshawn Williams, 15; Deztanee Cobb, 17; Cortavian Murphy, 16; Jaquarius Hegler, 15; and Elexus Hillsman, 16 years old.

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- According to authorities in Kalamazoo Township multiple people are dead after an overnight high-speed crash Saturday.

Around 12:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, a Kalamazoo Township police officer was parked on E. Main Street. He saw a blue Dodge Charger going east at nearly 100 mph and attempted to stop the car, said Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Pali Matyas. 

The officer saw the Charger round the curve near Humphrey Street and continue on, but by the time the officer made it around the curve himself -- the Charger was no where to be seen. 

The incident was not a high speed pursuit, Matyas said.

"It was just an officer spotting a speeding vehicle," he said. "He stayed in the area believing that a vehicle traveling that fast was probably going to crash somewhere."

When the officer finally reached Sprinkle Road, he saw a fire on the north side of the road, east of Sprinkle -- the Charger had crashed into some trees along the road, Matyas said.

"He went to that orange glow and discovered a vehicle that was fully engulfed in flames," he said. "

Chief Tim Bourgeios reports that multiple fatalities were in the Charger. Teisha Swindle, who was at the scene, said she was related to of one of the victims told us that there were five individuals under the age of 18 inside the Charger. 

"They're some sweet kids, very sweet respectable kids," said Teisha Swindle. 

Matyas said it will be difficult to identify the victims soon because of the fire, and they will probably have to use dental records. 

"Our hearts go out to the families that are in a waiting game," he said. "It's a lot of angst, and it's a lot of pain. But it's even more painful to be told your loved one is deceased when, in fact, they're not." 

A vigil was planned for the teens killed in the accident, according to a post on Facebook from Angie Franklin. 

People gathered at Lacrone Park at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2 for a candlelight ceremony. 

Video footage from the dash camera on the officer's cruiser was released on Saturday morning. Viewer discretion is advised. 

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's office will be conducting a thorough investigation of the crash. 

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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