18-year-old Tyler Ross arrested after Brooke Hawn, 16, found dead in car

Police not sure if crash caused girl's death

SHIELDSTOWN, Ind. - A man was arrested on charges of reckless homicide and operating a vehicle without ever having received a license after 16-year-old girl was found dead in the aftermath of a southern Indiana crash.

The body of Brooke Hawn was found in a car that plunged into the White River during a crash just after 5 p.m. near Shieldstown in Jackson County.

Investigators said Tyler Ross, 18, was driving a car with Hawn and a 19-year-old man as passengers when Ross lost control and flipped the car into the White River.

The two men escaped through broken windows and ran for help, officials said.

They ran to the home of Virginia and Bob Smith for help.

"They were so devastated," Virginia Smith said. "It was pitiful. It was."

The Smiths said the two men barely spoke, except to blame the crash on Hawn.

When crews pulled the car out of the water, they found Hawn inside.

Hawn's aunt, Kim Ingalls, said she doesn't understand why the men weren't able to save her niece.

"They were 18- and 19-year-old boys, and she was a 16-year-old girl who weighed hardly anything," Ingalls said. "Why in God's name could they not drag her out of that car?"

Although Ross was driving, the car belonged to Hawn.

"When I got there and they told me what color the car was, I knew it was her," Hawn's grandmother, Loretta Holt, said.

Investigators said Hawn was in the front passenger seat and the 19-year-old male was in the back.

Hawn's mother had forbidden her from spending time with the two men.

Investigators said Ross was speeding around a curve on the road, when he lost control.

"He lost control of the vehicle, just missing a utility pole," said Officer Jeffrey Walters, with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. "The vehicle got into a slide. The driver said he was unable to get control of the vehicle."

Hawn's family said they're devastated, but they hope their loss can be an example to other young people.

"I just hope that kids out there will see this and realize they're not invincible," Ingalls said. "Bad things happen to good kids."


Jackson County Coroner Roger Wheeler ruled the cause of Hawn's death as a combination of trauma, hypothermia and freshwater drowning. 

Bond for Ross was set at $10,500.

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