Four Chicago-area teens were killed when their car plunged into a creek early Tuesday -- the latest in a string of horrific traffic accidents involving young people. (WMAQ)
(NBC) -- Four Chicago-area teens were killed when their car plunged into a creek early Tuesday -- the latest in a string of horrific traffic accidents involving young people.
The toll -- 15 dead in three accidents since Sunday -- underscores how dangerous driving can be for teenagers. Crash injuries are the leading cause of death for people ages 13-19, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, even though deadly crashes have been on the decline for decades.
RELATED | 6 teens killed, 2 hurt in Ohio SUV wreck
The Illinois victims -- two boys and two girls, ages 15 to 17 -- left their homes Monday evening and never returned, NBCChicago.com reported. Their bodies were found in an overturned car in Forked Creek about 7:30 a.m.
Will County Sheriff's spokesman Ken Kaupas said it appears the driver lost control on a patch of water or ice, smashed through a guard rail and plunged into the rain-swollen creek.
The grim discovery came amid word of another devastating wreck in Texas that left five teenagers dead over the weekend.
Three boys and two girls, who were sisters, were killed when their Chevy SUV ran a stop sign and collided with a fuel tanker on Sunday afternoon in Dumas, about 45 miles north of Amarillo.
The truck driver, identified by The Associated Press as Ezequiel Garcia, was burned over much of his body and was in critical condition.
That same day, six Ohio teens were killed when an SUV sped off a stretch of road known as dead man's curve and flipped into a pond.
The State Highway Patrol revealed Tuesday that the driver, Alexis Cayson, 19, did not have a valid license. The owner of the vehicle says it was stolen and it's not clear how the teens ended up in it.
Cayson was killed, along with five boys ages 14 to 19. Two boys survived by smashing a rear window and swimming to safety. One of them told police the driver may have been going 80 mph as she rounded a bend in the two-lane road in Warren, about 60 miles from Cleveland.
"The car had jerked out of control," another survivor, Brian Henry, 18, told Youngstown TV station WYTV. "I don't know if she did it on purpose, or how fast she was going."
Teen deaths from car crashes are on the decline in the United States, dropping from 8,748 in 1975 to 3,115 in 2010, according to the insurance institute, but the risk of being in an accident is three times higher for teens than older drivers.