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Hill jumping suspected in deadly Eau Claire teen crash

Three out of the five teenagers traveling in a single vehicle were killed in an accident, three miles south of Eau Claire. Authorities are conducting an investigation that is expected to determine whether the teens were hill jumping or speeding across the crests of a rural road in an attempt to make a car airborne.

The single-vehicle car accident in the town of Washington killed a 14-year-old boy, his pregnant 13-year-old girlfriend and a 15-year-old male passenger. Two teens survived the crash, a 13-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl. All five were students in the Eleva-Strum School District.

The crash victims were taken to separate medical facilities; the injured boy to St. Mary's Hospital in Minnesota and the girl to Sacred Heart Hospital. Both victims were released from the hospital within a week after their accident.

Eau Claire County investigators want to quiz the 16-year-old carefully when doctors permit an interview. The car involved in the crash belonged to her family. The teen had been given permission to drive it, but the girl was not in the driver's seat when the car crashed.

Law enforcement and legal officials say no criminal charges are likely against the injured 16-year-old, although other charges are pending. Police want to know if the injured female committed a noncriminal offense by permitting the unauthorized, unlicensed 14-year-old to drive the car.

The accident victim may also be charged with violating the terms of her graduated driver's license, which forbid driving with multiple passengers. Authorities are conducting an investigation of the mechanical history of the car and tracking the whereabouts of the five teens prior to the fatal accident. Police have not ruled out illegal drug use.

Accident reconstruction crews will determine whether hill jumping, also called hill topping, was a crash factor. An Eau Claire County sheriff's deputy acknowledged that the practice of hill jumping was popular among area teens.

Source:, "Wisconsin authorities busy investigating deadly crash in which 14-year-old was driver," Dan Holtz, Dec. 23, 2011

Source: Leader Telegram, "Survivors of fatal crash leave hospitals," Dec. 28, 2011

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