ST. LOUIS COUNTY • The teenage Chesterfield driver who died along with two passengers in his convertible this summer was driving far beyond the speed limit and had a trace of alcohol in his system, according to a crash report released to the Post-Dispatch this week.
Christopher Lenzen, 18, the driver, and two sisters, Lauren Oliver, 18, and Kathleen Oliver, 17, of Wildwood, who were both sitting in the back seat, were killed in the one-vehicle crash Aug. 15 on Homestead Manor Drive in Wildwood. Olivia Dames, 18, the front-seat passenger, survived the crash.
In the report released by the St. Louis County Police Department, officers who reconstructed the crash said that the speed of the vehicle at the time it left the road was 68.5 miles per hour. The speed limit on Homestead Manor Drive is 25 miles per hour.
Along with speed, the report cites alcohol as a “probable contributing circumstance” in the crash.
A toxicology report indicated that Lenzen’s blood-alcohol level was 0.014 percent. That figure is far below the legal limit of 0.08 percent for of-age drivers and under the 0.02 percent level for minors at which point Missouri’s “zero tolerance” law kicks in, requiring a mandatory license suspension.
The accident report released by St. Louis County police concluded: “The collision occurred as the result of (the) driver traveling at an excessive speed in a residential area when he encountered a curve in the roadway.”
St. Louis County police Officer John Hallquist, who is assigned to Wildwood and was first on the scene, said what role alcohol might have played in the accident was unknown.
“Do I believe alcohol was a factor? Absolutely,” he added. “Just because it’s under the legal limit doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect your senses.”
Lenzen was about to leave for college and he and Dames went out for the evening, including dinner at the Boathouse in Forest Park, the report said. They were in Lenzen’s parents’ white 2013 Infiniti G37S convertible with the top down.
After finishing dinner, the couple drove to a lake area behind Chesterfield Mall and watched the sunset. While there, they each had a glass of champagne that Lenzen had brought with him, the report says.
Afterward, the couple drove to the Oliver sisters’ Wildwood home so Lenzen could say goodbye, and all four of them decided to go for a ride.
The girls’ mother, Cheryl Oliver, told police that the girls had been home watching a movie when Lenzen stopped by. After a few minutes, she looked outside and did not see them. She called and texted the girls’ cellphones numerous times but did not get a response. When she heard sirens, she feared something had happened to them, according to the report.
After leaving the Olivers’ home on Sara Matthews Lane, Lenzen turned left on Rieger Road and left again on Homestead Manor Drive.
According to the report, Dames said that Lenzen missed a curve in the road and careened into the grass. Dames, who was wearing her seat belt, said she ducked under the dashboard as the vehicle sideswiped a small tree, went airborne twice, struck the deck of a home and went down the hill into the woods.
The Oliver sisters were dead when authorities arrived. Lenzen died before a medical helicopter could get him to a hospital. Police said Lenzen and Lauren Oliver were not wearing seat belts, and Kathleen Oliver was wearing a lap belt only.
Relatives of those killed could not be reached Thursday night for comment.