Speed believed to be factor in Middletown crash that killed Lakota student

Driver, other passengers suffered injuries that sent them to area hospitals.

Excessive speed is believed to be a factor in the crash late Saturday night in Middletown that killed a 14-year-old Lakota West freshman and injured an SUV full of others, according to investigators and the Middletown police report.

Rebecca Kumar, 18, of Liberty Twp., was driving a 2015 Cadillac SUV south on North Verity Parkway near Hughes Street about 11:15 p.m. when she failed to negotiate a curve, went off the road, hit a curb and utility pole before the vehicle overturned and came to rest in a wooded area, according to the Middletown Division of Police report.

Passenger Laith Masri of Liberty Twp. died of multiple traumatic injuries at the scene, and his death ruled an accident by the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Kumar and passengers Akshay Kumar, 14, of Liberty Twp.: Anmar Masri, 12, of Liberty Twp.; Ameer Aldaoud, 14, of Fairfield Twp., and Genesis Hope Sookha, 15, of West Chester Twp. were all injured and taken to area hospitals for treatment.

The crash remains under investigation, but according to the report “unsafe speed” is believed to be a contributing factor. The speed limit in that area is 35 mph, and no estimated speed is included on the preliminary report.

Acting Police Chief Eric Cranks said Monday excessive speed is being investigated as a contributing factor. He said Tuesday investigators have information that the driver was racing another vehicle before the crash.

“Investigation is ongoing and additional interviews will be conducted with the other occupants of the vehicle,” Crank said.

Lakota Schools, which is on spring break this week, released a statement.

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of one of our Lakota West Freshman students, Laith Masri. Information has been shared with our families and staff about counseling and grief support that will be available during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with Laith’s family and friends, as well as those of our other students who were also involved in the accident,” said Betsy Fuller, district director of communications.

Middletown police and the Butler County Serious Accident Reconstruction Team were at the scene investigating for several hours.

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