1 teen killed, 3 injured in apparent hill-hopping crash in St. Charles County

2011-10-19T00:10:00Z 2013-01-21T12:19:31Z 1 teen killed, 3 injured in apparent hill-hopping crash in St. Charles CountyBY SUSAN WEICH • sweich@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7207 stltoday.com

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • One high school student was killed and three others injured in a one-car crash Monday night that may have been caused by "hill-hopping."

Clayton D. Newell, 16, of St. Charles, a sophomore at Francis Howell North High School, was ejected from the car. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The accident happened on Greens Bottom Road, which runs parallel to Highway 94, near the Missouri River. It is a straight, smooth road with two berms 3 to 4 feet high over a creekbed. For decades, thrill-seeking teens have used the berms as a jumping ramp. The cars become airborne and then bottom out on the other side.

Monday's crash is still under investigation, but St. Charles County sheriff's deputies said it appears the teens had been hill-hopping. In addition, drug use appears to have been a contributing factor in the crash, police said.

Police said the 17-year-old driver sped over one of the rises about 7:20 p.m. and lost control of her car, a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu. The vehicle flipped end over end. The driver and two other passengers, a 16-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl, all students at Francis Howell High School, were seriously injured. None of the teens had been wearing seat belts, police said.

Police are not releasing the name of the driver or the other two passengers because the accident is still under investigation and charges may be filed.

Officials said many serious crashes have occurred on the road, and fatal accidents happened there in 1985 and 2001.

Lt. Craig McGuire, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said that although the number of hill-hopping incidents in the county has decreased in recent years, "obviously it's a very dangerous thing to do."

"It doesn't sail through the air, landing on all four tires," McGuire said of a typical vehicle. "It noses in when it hits. That causes the vehicle to flip end over end."

Jennifer Henry, a spokeswoman for the Francis Howell School District, said counselors were on hand at both high schools Tuesday to help students cope with news about the crash.

Mark Schlinkmann of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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