WARREN, Ohio ( WKBN) Brian Henry wanted to give up at first.
The 18-year-old had just regained consciousness after the SUV he was riding home in early Sunday struck a guardrail at high speed, flipped into a pond and was submerged in water up to his neck.
He regained his composure, struggled through getting his pants and shoes caught in a seatbelt, busted the back windshield with his elbow, and swam to safety as one of two survivors of Ohio's deadliest crash in the last three years and the deadliest in Trumbull County history.
"First thing I thought was that I just wanted to give up," Henry said. "I was like, I can't go out like that. It took me six or seven times to bust the window."
Henry said he was called by a friend who offered a ride home from another friend's house. Henry said he wasn't with the other seven and was unsure where they were coming from. A mother of one of the deceased said the others were at a party the night before and were rushing home to get back to their houses before anyone noticed.
Henry, who suffered a bruised forehead and eye in the crash, said he tried to warn the driver, Alexis Cayson, 19, to slow down. He said by the time he turned around, she already struck the guardrail.
"We were almost home," he said. "Everybody was almost home. She took into her hands to speed up. I'd been telling her to slow down. Before I turned around and looked at her, the car had jerked out of control. I don't know if she did it on purpose or how fast she was going."
Henry said he hit his head on the dashboard and was knocked unconscious. When the SUV landed in the pond he said, the cold water woke him up.
He said he felt like giving up at first. Then he saw a light and was determined to get to safety. Henry said couldn't open the windshield so he smashed it with his elbow after seven tries.
Henry said his feet became entangled with seatbelts and couldn't get out of the car until he shed his shoes and pants.
He then saw his friend, Asher Lewis, 15, also made it out, but Henry said he didn't know how. Both ran a quarter-mile to a home and called for help.
"I wasn't thinking about myself," he said. "I was thinking about the other lives that were left behind to get them help. I didn't care if I was busted up. I just had to get help there first."
Six others — Alexis Cayson, 19; Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan M. Behner, 15; Daylan Ray, 15; Brandon A. Murray, 14; and Ramone M. White, 15 — died in the crash.
All eight were friends who lived in the same east side neighborhood.
"I'm upset," Henry said. "This is always going to be with me the rest of my life. All of them were my boys that I was with. They were younger, but they all looked up to me. We all looked out for everybody."
Ohio State Highway Patrol investigators said speed was a factor but they have not determined a myriad of other factors, including what caused Cayson to lose control, if drug and alcohol use was a factor and just how fast the car was going when it struck the guardrail.
Henry said he's trying to be strong for other parents and that he is reflecting on his purpose in life following the incident.
"I hate to see everybody's parents like this," he said. "I have to stay strong so we can all get through this. I'm going to try what God put me here for and try to do that."
Article from WANE TV sister station WKBN .
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