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INEXPERIENCE SEEN AS CAUSE OF FATAL CRASH

Authorities suspect that a 15-year-old girl's lack of driving experience led to a one-car crash Thursday that killed her and another teen-age girl, described as her best friend.

Neither alcohol nor drugs was believed to have been a factor in the accident that killed Cristine A. Covey, 15, of Friendship, and Marsha Keamek, 16, of Cuba, according to Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputies.

Deputies said Miss Covey was driving a car registered to the father of Adam Bearfield, 16, of Hinsdale, who was riding in the front seat with the two girls and escaped serious injury.

Deputies said that a charge of permitting unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle would be filed but that they were not sure against whom.

Bearfield was treated in Olean General Hospital and released.

Two other passengers suffered serious injuries and were admitted to the intensive-care unit of Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. John Irvin, 19, of Hinsdale, was listed in critical condition, and Steven Russell, 22, of Olean, was listed in serious condition.

The accident occurred about 5:30 p.m. Thursday on Haskell Road, about one-tenth of a mile north of Wolf Run Road, deputies said.

The car was heading south on a straight stretch of roadway and, after crossing a steel deck bridge, went out of control and hit a tree.

Miss Covey and Miss Keamek were thrown from the car, deputies said.

None of the five occupants was wearing a seat belt, deputies said.

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