SHIELDSTOWN, Ind. - A teen charged in connection with a crash that killed his girlfriend said in a jailhouse interview Thursday that what he did was wrong.
Loved ones of Brooke Hawn, 16, said she was sweet, outgoing and a typical teen enjoying life. She had only had her license a month before her car crashed with her boyfriend, Tyler Ross, 18, behind the wheel.
"I'd rather her still be here. She had a lot more going for her life than I ever have," Ross said in an interview with WHAS in Louisville.
Ross took full responsibility for the Jackson County crash that killed Hawn, who was just 12 days from her 17th birthday.
"It hurts because it's my fault. If I wouldn't have been horsing around, she'd still be here," Ross said.
Ross and Hawn had been dating for a few months, though her mother had forbidden the pairing because of his many juvenile burglary arrests.
"I liked her a lot. She made me happy. I loved being around her. She was there when I needed someone to talk to," Ross said.
Ross and a friend went for a ride in her car bound for Brownstown from Seymour on Wednesday. Ross was driving, with Hawn in the passenger seat and his friend was in back. Ross has never had a driver's license.
Ross admitted to doing tricks, driving recklessly and taking a curve too fast, overcorrecting and flipping the car into the White River.
Ross and his friend crawled out a window, but they couldn't free Hawn.
"I tried helping her two times. Before I even got out of the car, I tried getting her out of the water, but I couldn't breathe no more," Ross said.
Ross came up for air and said he spotted his friend bloody and struggling to get to shore before going back for Hawn.
"But I couldn't breathe, so I had to go back up. It killed me, but I didn't know what to do," Ross said.
A dive team pulled the car out of the water, but by that time, Hawn had died from a combination of hypothermia, blunt force trauma and water in her lungs.
Ross said he hadn't met Hawn's family and that many of them didn't even know of him before Wednesday, but he's speaking to them now.
"I'm sorry. I never meant for it to happen. If I could take it back I would,” Ross said. “If there is anything I can do to help you guys, I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Ross faces charges of reckless homicide and driving without ever having received a license.