Teens were pursued by police moments before deadly U. City crash, went undiscovered for 4 hours

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Police were chasing a car moments before it crashed into a vacant house here last week, killing all three teen boys inside, authorities said Monday.

The crash happened about 2:30 a.m., four hours earlier than originally reported.

But it wasn’t until 6:30 a.m. that a bystander came upon the crash scene and called police.

“I’m surprised no one heard (the crash),” said Cpl. Dallas Thompson, spokesperson for the Missouri Highway Patrol. “But at 2:30 in the morning, I really don’t know. Being that the house was vacant, there were no skid marks — you’d think there still would have been a loud pop in the area, but we’ve talked to all the neighbors and no one seemed to have heard anything.”

The University City officer who attempted to pull the teens over for traffic violations lost sight of the car just moments before the crash. Police dashcam footage released Monday shows the officer driving by the scene, but the crashed car is not visible because the area is so dark.

Johnnie Ursery, Demetrius Ingram and Deion Robinson, all 15, were killed early Wednesday when their car failed to make a curve in the 1000 block of Groby Road and crashed into the vacant home. The boys, all students at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, had taken a car belonging to one of their mothers.

Police showed the boys’ families the two minutes of dashcam footage that captured the pursuit before releasing it to media on Monday. The families could not be immediately be reached for comment.

The footage shows a University City police officer following the speeding Hyundai from a distance beginning around 2:23 a.m. The car is seen turning left from the right lane, then driving in the wrong lane before turning off its headlights and continuing to drive.

The officer turns on his emergency lights about a minute into the two-minute chase, and the Hyundai does not slow down. Less than 30 seconds after the officer turns on the car’s emergency lights, a sergeant tells the officer not to “pursue further,” according to a release from University City police. That was seconds before 2:25 a.m.

Capt. Fredrick Lemons II told the Post-Dispatch on Monday the pursuit was not a chase under department guidelines because the officer was not closely following the teens’ car.

After the officer turns the car’s lights off near Old Bonhomme Road, he continues east on Groby Road and passes the crash site about a half-mile later.

“You can see the officer passing, and you can’t see the crash,” Lemons said of the video, noting the alignment of the trees may have also muffled the sound of the crash.

Lemons said the first call police received about the crash was around 6:30 a.m. A man who did not want to be identified told the Post-Dispatch at the scene last week that he was walking his dog when he happened upon the scene and called police.

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