Local authorities in St. Peteresburg, Fla. pulled a stolen 1990 Honda Accord out of a pond and found the bodies of three teenage girls. Dominique Battle, 16, Ashaunti Butler, 15, and Laniya Miller, 15, were all found to have their seat belts off, possibly from trying to get out of the car, and no sign of who was driving the vehicle, according to ABC.
Pinellas County Sheriff, Bob Gualtieri, spoke to local media and offered a detailed timeline of events that lead up to the accident.
Reportedly, the three girls, who had a combined seven counts of grand theft auto between them just last year, drove off in the car of a friend that offered to give them a ride. While driving with their lights off, a police officer tried to pull them over but chose not to pursue because the circumstances didn’t meet the sheriff department’s criteria.
Another officer then followed them from a distance as they turned into a local cemetery after being informed that the car was reported as stolen. With their lights off, the teens were unable to see where they were going as they sped down the cemetery road before driving into the pond. Once the car was a few feet into the water, it started to sink into the 15-foot-deep pond.
Two of the girls’ mothers spoke at a press conference questioning authorities’ reports of what happened, according to WFLA.
“The sheriff himself has said they were evading police, but yet the lights weren’t on and they didn’t know that they were being followed,” said attorney Michele Whitfield.
“We’ve done more investigating that the sheriff’s office has done,” attorney Will Anderson said.
Natasha Winkler, the mother of Laniya Miller, and Yashica Clemmons, the mother of Dominique Battle, spoke about how they don’t want their daughters to be labeled as criminals.
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