Two teens who died in a crash on Interstate 96 in Ingham County this week have been identified as regional athletes, sports officials said.
Darian Locklear and Julianna Ward-Brown had been heading to practice Tuesday night for their Meijer AAA Hockey team when they were involved in an accident, the group said in a statement.
The 16-year-olds were driving west on I-96 near Williamston Road in Wheatfield Township at about 5:45 p.m. when their car lost control, struck a tree, rolled over, then hit another tree, Michigan State Police reported.
Both youths were pronounced dead at the scene. They wore seat belts and alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash, investigators said.
MSP asks anyone who witnessed the crash to call the Lansing post at (517) 322-1907.
Locklear was a junior at Brighton High School. Ward-Brown was in the same grade at Howell High, Meijer AAA Hockey representatives said. The girls played together on the 16U girls team.
“As you can imagine, we are all devastated — in shock,” said Tom Berry, Meijer AAA Hockey’s director. “There is no guidebook to navigate this kind of tragedy. My heart breaks for their families, their teammates and their friends.”
The group is scheduled to have grief counselors on hand for players, coaches and parents during practice Thursday at the Summit Sports and Ice Complex near Lansing.
The deaths sparked condolences online.
“You will be missed greatly in the hockey community,” one user wrote on Twitter. “Rest easy girls.”
Another tweeted: “Julianna and Darian, the hockey community won’t be the same without you. Thanks for lots of memories. Fly high.”
Meanwhile, supporters have created a GoFundMe page seeking donations for Julianna’s funeral expenses. More than $3,800 had been raised through early Thursday.