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Source: 13-year-old driver in triple fatal crash took car from relatives without their knowledge

Three children, including the driver's 9-year-old cousin, were among those killed during a fiery crash, sources said. The driver survived.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — The 13-year-old boy who police said caused a single-vehicle crash killing two other 13-year-olds and a 9-year-old was driving a decommissioned Hillsdale police car he had taken without the owner’s knowledge, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The 9-year-old was the driver's cousin who died after the car slammed into a tree on New Florissant Road Monday morning, said the source.

The lone survivor was the 13-year-old driver.

The car had been traveling at speeds likely more than 80 to 90 mph, and still had parts of a partition inside of it for the police canine officer who once drove it, according to the source.

Hillsdale police sold the vehicle to a tow company, which then sold it to a relative of the 13-year-old, the source told 5 On Your Side. The source said that relative did not know the boy had taken the car.

The other 13-year-olds who were in the car on the night of the crash were not related to the driver, according to the source.

Some of the children were from north St. Louis County and the others were from St. Louis City, according to the source.

The Florissant Police Department has not released the names of the victims.

The 13-year-old driver is now facing manslaughter charges and is in the custody of St. Louis County Family Court.

"This is such a tragedy for everyone involved and we offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims during this difficult time," the department said in the statement.

5 On Your Side’s Robert Townsend talked on the phone to a friend of one of the 13-year-olds, who said his friend was going to celebrate his 14th birthday next month and was going into ninth grade in August.

Officers attempted to perform life-saving measures on the victims, according to the department's post.

The department said an initial investigation found speed was a contributing factor in the crash. Neighbors said crashes happen all the time because of a dangerous curve in the road.

“I heard a boom and I thought it was something in my house and maybe my son had done something,” neighbor Dwayne Elliot said.

That's when Elliot said he came out of his house just before 2 a.m. Monday and saw a car had crashed into a tree a few houses down.

“I got about halfway down the driveway and the car just exploded. It just exploded and I heard a guy saying I think there's someone in the car,” Elliot said.

Investigators believe the car immediately caught fire after hitting the tree.

“I woke up this morning and I hear there were three people who passed away. It's tragic. It's horrible,” Elliot said in an interview Monday with 5 On Your Side.

 A neighbor two doors down from Elliot said crashes happen all the time on this stretch of the very busy road especially down by the library.

“It's a daily occurrence to hear cars squeal of tires, skidding to keep from hitting somebody because where this guy’s getting ready to turn out there now and that guys turning in. They almost hit right there just now,” neighbor Tim Wright said.

Elliot said his heart goes out to the families affected by this tragedy.

“I pray for those families and people who are in the car. You just got to be careful. I'm always careful coming around that edge and always slowing down no matter what,” Elliot said.

To watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

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