Police officer arrested after two high school cheerleaders killed in high-speed crash

Two high school cheerleaders from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have been killed in a car crash involving a police officer who was in a high-speed pursuit of a suspect following a home invasion.

Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 15, were killed in the crash on Saturday night. They were students and cheerleaders at Brusly High School outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Liam Dunn, Maggie’s brother, was also in the vehicle at the time of the crash. He’s in critical condition, according to People.

“He will need surgeries. Has a broken femur, tabula [sic], left wrist, fractured skull, and a few other issues. We are asking for prayers,” Kenny Wayne posted on Facebook. “We don’t know why God took our daughter, but I bet she is running shop up there.”

Officer David Cauthron, 42, from Addis, south of the Lousiana capital has been arrested and now faces two counts of negligent homicide and one count of negligent injuring, according to WBRZ. It remains unclear if he has hired an attorney to speak on his behalf.

According to District Attorney Tony Clayton, the officer is on administrative leave. Mr Clayton said Mr Cauthron “has a lot of questions to answer pertaining to his speed and sheer negligence”.

“For these kids to not to have been able to start the New Year is inexcusable, but we’ll follow the facts first,” he told WBRZ. “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.”

Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 15, were killed in a car crash involving a police officer (Facebook / Brusly High School Cheerleading)
Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 15, were killed in a car crash involving a police officer (Facebook / Brusly High School Cheerleading)

“If it involves putting human life in danger, stop the damn pursuit. It’s just not worth the risk,” he added.

According to the authorities, the crash took place as the officer was chasing Tyquel Zanders, The Advocate reported.

Mr Zanders was detained after his vehicle stalled and now faces charges of home invasion, theft of a vehicle and aggravated flight, according to The Advocate.

Brusly High School Principal Walt Lemoine said in a statement that the extent of the losses “are far-reaching in our school community as Maggie’s mother, Erin Martin, and sister, Tori Hill, work at our school. Caroline’s older sister is a senior at Brusly High and has younger siblings in our school system”.

“Their losses are sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students,” he added.

He noted that the school has a group of staffers to handle crises “comprised of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents and school personnel at difficult times such as this”.

The cheerleading team wrote on Facebook: “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 team said.

According to WBRZ, the police officer was travelling at 86 miles an hour (138kph) and didn’t brake before the crash. The outlet reported that witnesses said he ran a red light, which had been red for about 20 seconds before he reached the intersection.

“I want the public to have confidence in its DA’s office that we will follow the facts, and we should let the facts lead us to whatever the outcome should be,” Mr Clayton said.