Two teen cheerleaders killed after police car races through red light at 86mph

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Cheerleaders Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill were killed during a high-speed police chase (Image: Brusly High School Cheerleading/Facebook)
Cheerleaders Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill were killed during a high-speed police chase (Image: Brusly High School Cheerleading/Facebook)

Two teenage cheerleaders have been killed after a police car ran through a red light at 86mph and struck their vehicle on New Year's Eve.

Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 16, from Louisiana, US, tragically died after police officer David Cauthron, 42, crashed into their vehicle on Saturday morning.

Mr Cauthron, a police officer in the community of Addis, was arrested on Sunday evening after the high-speed pursuit of a burglary suspect.

District Attorney Tony Clayton confirmed the police officer has been charged with two counts of negligent homicide and one count of negligent injuring.

The teenagers were killed after their car was rammed into by a police car on a state highway leaving a third person critically injured.

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Brusly High School in Louisiana paid tribute to the cheerleaders as they released a statement on their Facebook page.

Two teen cheerleaders killed after police car races through red light at 86mphBrusly High School paid tribute to the girls (Facebook)

It said: "'As we mourn the tragic deaths of Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill please keep their families, friends, and the BHS community in your thoughts and prayers.

"Their enthusiasm and bright smiles will be missed more than can be imagined."

The statement saw dozens of outpouring and tributes for the teenagers who tragically lost their lives after cops were pursuing 24-year-old suspect Tyquel Zanders on Saturday evening.

Two teen cheerleaders killed after police car races through red light at 86mphPolice officer David Cauthron has been charged (Addis Police)
Two teen cheerleaders killed after police car races through red light at 86mphCops were pursuing 24-year-old suspect Tyquel Zanders when the crash happened (WBRZ ABC 2)

Zanders allegedly broke into one of his family member's home and stole their car.

According to police he took the car keys and drove off as officers chased the suspect in Baton Rouge.

Officers said the suspect was chased through multiple counties and driving at speeds of 110mph.

The 24-year-old was driving through red lights when the cop allegedly smashed into the vehicle of the cheerleaders in the town of Brusly.

Two teen cheerleaders killed after police car races through red light at 86mphA third passenger remains in a critical condition (WBRZ ABC 2)

A third passenger Maggie's brother, Liam Dunn, a University of Louisiana Lafayette student, was in the car when the police officer drove into the vehicle.

Dunn was rushed to hospital and remains in a critical condition, according to police.

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District Attorney Tony Clayton revealed the officer is facing serious question after he was caught driving at such high speeds.

He said: "That cop has a lot of questions to answer pertaining to his speed and sheer negligence. The public can rest assured, we will follow the facts.

"'For these kids to not to have been able to start the New Year is inexcusable, but we'll follow the facts first.

"I just can't put my arms around why the officer was driving at that rate of speed in pursuit of this vehicle. This officer is facing some serious issues.

"If it involves putting human life in danger, stop the damn pursuit. It's just not worth the risk."

Clayton added if Maggie's brother doesn't survive he will face another charge.

The officer said: "He put the chain of events into play. He's responsible for all the reactions to his actions. He's facing two counts, and if that poor kid doesn't survive, he'll face another."

Burglary suspect Zanders faces charges of home invasion, auto theft and aggravated flight.

He is also facing two counts of manslaughter.

Clayton revealed: "He is facing well over 100 years in prison and we plan to fully prosecute him.”

Liam Buckler

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation