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Lunchtime crash kills student at Southeast

An off-campus lunch trip for six Southeast High School students ended tragically Thursday when their car lost control and smashed into a tree, killing one teen and injuring five others.

Investigators were trying to determine if it was an accident or something intentional by the driver or occupants of another car.

Police were still searching later Thursday for a light-colored SUV that might have been involved in the crash. Investigators also were looking into the possibility that occupants of the SUV — possibly a Ford Expedition — flashed a gun at the other car, causing it to lose control and strike the tree on Lincoln between Edgemoor and Woodlawn, police Lt. Walker Andrews said.

Members of the Police Department's homicide unit and investigators from the District Attorney's Office were at the scene.

The incident occurred while the six students were off campus for lunch, Wichita school district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said.

The crash occurred at 11:33 a.m.

Andrews said the dead and injured were riding in a midsize gray Chrysler.

According to witnesses, the car and SUV were traveling at high speeds east on Lincoln from Edgemoor toward Woodlawn.

Andrews said it is possible the Chrysler and the SUV collided before the crash.

One resident, Sandy Hobbs, said she heard the crash and wasn't surprised because she has seen cars speed and crash along the street before.

Still, Hobbs said, "I sure didn't expect to see what I saw" Thursday.

Another resident, who declined to give his name, said speeding is a common occurrence along that stretch of Lincoln. "One guy I can just about set my watch by" because he zooms by regularly around 11:20 a.m., he said.

Andrews said the Chrysler lost control, spun sideways and struck a tree in the front yard of a house on Lincoln near Fabrique. Later Thursday, an investigator with a camera stepped up to the tree to document the area where the impact tore off bark.

The smashed Chrysler came to rest in the street.

The student who died had been ejected from the car and died at the scene, Andrews said.

When police arrived, he said, they found four of the injured people walking away from the crash scene.

A Wesley Medical Center spokeswoman said five people involved in the incident received treatment.

A 16-year-old girl had been admitted in fair condition, and a 16-year-old boy was listed in fair condition. The hospital treated and released three others: a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy.

Southeast High students were not told about the incident, Arensman said, because police hadn't reached the family of the student who died. Still, some students came to the crash scene as word spread.

A crisis team will be available to meet with students and staff at the school today, Arensman said.

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