4 Indiana teens killed, 4 hurt when hit while pushing stalled SUV

The teens were pushing the vehicle after it broke down on Indiana 258 in the rural community of Cortland when an SUV driven by a 24-year-old woman struck them from behind, police said.

Jackie Watson, mother of Brittany Watson who was killed in a car wreck, comforts Madaline Kerkhof, sister of crash victim Naveh Law, during a prayer vigil at Seymour High School Sunday.
Jackie Watson, mother of Brittany Watson who was killed in a car wreck, comforts Madaline Kerkhof, sister of crash victim Naveh Law, during a prayer vigil at Seymour High School Sunday. –Jordan Richart / The Tribune via AP

CORTLAND, Ind. (AP) — Hundreds of people filled a southern Indiana high school parking lot for a vigil honoring four teenagers who were killed Saturday when they were struck while pushing a stalled SUV after attending a birthday party.

The teens were pushing the vehicle after it broke down on Indiana 258 in the rural community of Cortland, about 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) south of Indianapolis, when an SUV driven by a 24-year-old woman struck them from behind, police said.

Four other teenagers were injured and three of them were flown to hospitals in Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky, while the fourth was treated at a local hospital.

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Authorities identified those killed as: 14-year-olds Neveah Law and Jenna Helton; 15-year-old Brittany Watson; and 16-year-old Martin Martinez.

The four teens who died were students at Seymour High School and Brownstown Central High School. At a hastily-arranged community prayer vigil Sunday at Seymour High School, people embraced and shed tears while others lit candles, released balloons and left messages on cards.

A local pastor spoke to the teens’ relatives and others attending the vigil.

Law’s mother, Torre Collins of Seymour, urged people to hug their children tight and hold them close because they might be gone in an instant.

“Mine walked out the door (Saturday) and will never be coming home to me,” she told The Seymour Tribune.

Martinez’s mother, Terri, said she learned of her son’s death while on vacation in Florida, and she hasn’t had time to process anything that has happened.

“It’s way too soon for him,” she said. “He was too sweet and would do anything for anyone.”

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