FERGUSON, Mo. — Three people were ejected from a vehicle that rolled over Sunday night on I-270 near West Florissant in Ferguson. No one inside the vehicle was wearing a seat belt, according to police.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified those killed in the crash as Aliyah Tatum, Dion Martin, and Kenrick Smalling. Smalling, 24, was driving the vehicle and died at the scene.
The two passengers — Tatum, 21, and Martin, 24, — were pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police said Smalling lost control of the Lexus and crashed into two SUVs before flying off the highway, rolling over and hitting a fence around 6:05 p.m. Sunday.
Missouri Patrol Corporal Dallas Thompson said the Lexus was traveling “at a higher rate of speed” before the crash.
“We see crashes like this all the time,” said Thompson. “In the State of Missouri, we’ve had over 900 people killed on our roadway, and looking at the numbers you know 65% to 70% of those are unbuckled.”
Four other people in separate cars sustained minor injuries, including a 7-year-old and a 13-year-old.
Friends of the three people killed in the crash expressed shock on social media. Martin and Smalling were described as hard workers.
“Dion got into the real estate business, and Kenrick, he was into construction,” said their friend, Thailond Thomas.
Thomas said he was too upset to talk in person but wanted to share memories by phone. He said Martin and Smalling were inseparable – and the life of any party.
“They were both so tight,” he said. “You couldn’t really tell them apart. They always rode together.”
He’s still trying to let the reality set in and said he hopes people change their attitudes about seat belts.
“That’s the bad habit they had,” Thailond Thomas said. “They loved cars so much. They really just took them as toys. For anybody out there driving around without your seatbelts, I just want to say – just think twice about the situation because things happen fast, in the blink of an eye. I just talked to these guys not too long ago.”