Tennessee Crash
In this photo provided by WBIR-TV, authorities investigate the scene of a fatal two-vehicle accident Saturday near Huntsville, Tenn.
updated 10/25/2008 7:00:32 PM ET 2008-10-25T23:00:32

A sport utility vehicle full of high school cheerleaders collided with an oncoming car in a fiery crash on a wet, foggy highway in rural northeastern Tennessee, killing four people, authorities said Saturday.

The SUV hydroplaned on a curve on the two-lane highway late Friday night, flipped on its side and crossed the center lane, slamming into an oncoming Ford Taurus, Tennessee Highway Patrol spokeswoman Laura McPherson said. The SUV erupted into flames.

Three of the girls in the SUV died. The surviving passenger was ejected from the vehicle and was in critical condition at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

A passenger in the car, Jeweline Ledbetter King, 49, was killed. A 22-year-old pregnant woman, Miranda King, was sitting in the back seat and lost her unborn child from injuries in the crash.

The car's driver, Malcum King, 22, and a 10-month-old child, Aiden Wilson, also were injured and taken to a hospital. The conditions of the car's survivors were not immediately known.

McPherson said investigators believe passengers were still trapped inside the second vehicle when the SUV caught fire a few feet away. A passing motorist used an all-terrain vehicle to pull the Taurus away from the burning SUV, she said.

Investigators believe the crash was caused in part by the slick and foggy conditions, and a preliminary report indicated none of the girls in the SUV was wearing a seat belt, McPherson said.

The infant in the car was in a child restraint seat. The rest in the car were wearing seat belts, except for Miranda King, who was about eight months pregnant.

Police identified the teenagers killed as Scarlette A. Hill, 17; Jaime Hill, 15; and driver Shirley N. Hughett, 16. The survivor is Ashley Mason, 15. A local funeral home said the Hills were sisters.

'We're all devastated'
Scott High School Principal Bill Hall told The Associated Press on Saturday the four girls had attended a home football game earlier Friday night.

Patsy Allen, grandmother of the Hill sisters, said Jaime started cheerleading two years ago and Scarlette, who goes by her middle name Alisha, started cheerleading in 7th grade.

She said the girls were on their way home but she doesn't know where they were coming from.
"They were good girls," Allen said. "Jamie was outgoing. Everyone liked them both. They made average grades. Alisha was looking forward to starting college."

Hall said the teens were considered leaders on the squad and were well-liked in the close-knit school of 800 students.

"We're all devastated," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and the other victims that were involved."

School officials discussed offering grief counseling and other ways to help students and families at the school. Funeral arrangements were pending.

The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 27 in Scott County, which is northwest of Knoxville and sits on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line. It shut down the highway for about eight hours.

Those in the other vehicle were from neighboring Fentress County, McPherson said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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