Four Iowa teens killed in utility vehicle accident
EPWORTH (AP) — Four teenage friends who recently graduated from middle school together were killed in Iowa over the weekend when a truck hit the John Deere utility vehicle they were riding in, authorities said.
Sean Kenneally, Mitchell Kluesner, Nicholas Kramer and Bryce Wilwert, all 14, were friends from the Epworth area and planned to begin their freshman year at Western Dubuque High School in the fall, The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported. Before the accident, they participated in a community parade and rode on the wrestling float together.
“They were having fun as a team — and then this,” said Paul Cleary, the wrestling coach at the high school.
The crash occurred Saturday afternoon when a pickup truck pulling a livestock trailer didn’t stop at a stop sign and then collided with a John Deere utility vehicle carrying the boys, according to authorities. The driver of the pickup wasn’t injured, but one passenger was hospitalized and another was treated for minor injuries.
Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dale Snyder said county ordinances allow utility vehicles to be used on county roads during farm work and says 14-year-olds can drive farm vehicles for farm work. But Snyder said Monday that it’s still unclear what the boys were doing as they drove around before the accident.
“And because of the nature of the [rural] school district, it doesn’t just affect one town, it affects a lot of communities,” said Mary Jane Maher, principal of Drexler Middle School. “Everybody in the community is going to have some connection to these students’ families and extended families.”
Dave Hoeger, principal of Western Dubuque High School, said school officials will provide support and guidance to grieving students.
Autopsies are still being performed and the investigation is ongoing. The sheriff’s department said it’s working with the Dubuque County Attorney’s Office to determine any charges that the pickup truck driver may face.