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Teens charged after girl’s drag-racing death in stolen car

CINCINNATI – Two teenage boys who police say were drag-racing in stolen cars along a quiet Ohio street when they crashed, killing a 14-year-old girl, have been charged with vehicular homicide and other crimes.

The boys – ages 15 and 16 – were drag-racing along a small street in Hamilton in southwestern Ohio just after 1 a.m. Tuesday when the 15-year-old driver bumped into the rear of the car carrying the 16-year-old boy and his girlfriend, 14-year-old Nicole Denney of West Chester in suburban Cincinnati, said Hamilton police Sgt. Ed Buns.

The 16-year-old lost control of the car and hit a picnic table and then a tree.

The brunt of the impact was on the passenger side of the car, where Denney was riding. She was killed.

“You’ve got kids out who should be at home in bed getting ready for school the next morning that are drag-racing on a street designed for low speed, and they’re going twice the limit,” Buns said. “People, and I don’t care whether you’re an adult or a juvenile, have to realize that actions have consequences. Life is fragile.”

The 15-year-old involved in the crash fled the scene, officials said, but was later found and arrested on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, receiving stolen property, drag racing, reckless driving and driving without licenses.

The possible penalties for juvenile convictions on those charges weren’t immediately clear.

The 16-year-old faces the same charges but was not arrested because he sustained back injuries, bruised organs, and a broken wrist in the crash, and has been cooperative with investigators, Buns said.

The Associated Press is not naming the boys because they are juveniles.

Buns said that the teens were able to steal the two cars involved because their owners left the keys inside.

Nicole’s father, Tim Denney, said Friday that he was in shock when he got the call at 5 a.m. Wednesday that his daughter was dead.

“I was numb,” he said. “I was in disbelief I had to ask the coroner if that was for sure my daughter.”

He said he didn’t know his daughter had a boyfriend and never met the young man, and that she had told him she was going to a movie with a friend the night she was killed.

“I texted her, ‘Do you promise me you will be home and go to school the he morning?’ ” he said. “Her last text to me was, ‘Yeah, I promise.’ ”

He said he doesn’t want to see the two teenage boys punished too harshly.

“Nothing that happens to these boys is ever going to make this right, and doing long prison time is just going to make them worse people,” he said. “I hope they learn from this and maybe someday they’ll think and maybe it could save someone else’s life.”