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Final text to friend from Barrie crash victim 'just a black screen'

Family member believes the group was heading to the casino at Georgian Downs, but it's unknown if they made it
Clockwise from top left are Haley Marin, Curtis King, Jason Ono-O'Connor, Luke West, River Wells, and Jersey Mitchell.

The circumstances and hours leading up to a fatal crash that killed six young Barrie residents are slowly coming into focus, but many unanswered questions remain and it could take days or even weeks to find answers.

The victims have been identified as Luke WestJersey Mitchell, Haley Marin, Curtis King, Jason Ono-O'Connor, and River Wells, which were also the names of the missing people released by city police over the weekend. The social-media posts were later removed by police, which has indicated it would not be confirming the names of the victims. However, police have said they believe the six missing people were the victims in the weekend crash. 

A family member of one of the victims told BarrieToday they were still waiting on positive identification Tuesday morning through DNA analysis. 

The group is believed to have spent some time at a downtown Barrie bar on Friday night and into early Saturday morning. 

Two young women who visited the crash scene Monday told reporters they had ran into the group downtown. They said the group then left to go to the casino at Georgian Downs, not far from where the horrific crash happened in a residential construction area. 

Karen Ross, who said she was longtime friends with Marin, told BarrieToday that she received an unusual text message from Marin.

Saturday morning "was the last time I had heard from her. My boyfriend’s dog had just passed away and we were up all night and she was up at the same time as me,” Ross said. “The last message I got from her was 5:40 a.m. and it was a little weird because it was just a black screen.

"But the night before, Friday night, she had mentioned to me, 'Oh, you know who I just saw for the first time in a while?' I asked who and she said Luke West, who we used to talk to a lot back in the day," Ross added.

Ross said she hadn’t heard anything from Marin all day Saturday, but added she started to feel like something was wrong when she saw on social media that West was missing.

On Saturday at 8:54 p.m., Barrie police posted a missing persons report on social media about 22-year-old Curtis King, 23-year-old River Wells, and 22-year-old Jason Ono-O’Connor. Police said they were last seen early Saturday morning on Broadmoor Avenue, which is located in south-end Barrie near Bayview Drive and Little Avenue, and were travelling to nearby Chieftain Crescent, which is less than one kilometre away, or to Georgian Downs.

Tweets were also soon issued by police about Luke West being reported missing, and then Haley Marin and Jersey Mitchell, who were said to be in a white Hyundai, which belonged to Mitchell.

The vehicle, which is believed to be the Hyundai but has not been confirmed, was located by a police officer in a construction area along McKay Road, near County Road 27 in the city's south end, around 2 a.m., Sunday.

The vehicle is believed to have plummeted into a large, deep hole at the residential development site and caught fire, according to a family member of one of the victims. All six occupants were killed in the crash, which is believed to have happened sometime between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., Saturday.

City of Barrie CAO Michael Prowse issued a statement Sunday evening confirming the area where the crash occurred is the site of a city construction project and the nearby intersection had been closed since the spring.

"The area was a construction site being managed by city contractors to deliver the design, construction and financing of the water, sewer and road work along McKay Road and Veterans Road to service new development in this area. The road has been fully closed and signed accordingly for many months," Prowse said. 

Meanwhile, the family member tells BarrieToday the group was going to the casino at Georgian Downs, but "there appears to be no proof yet that they made it there. ... There's no sign of them on any surveillance footage that's been examined," they said. "There may be other footage that will show them there, but so far that evidence hasn't turned up."

The vehicle that was removed from the scene appeared to be red under the tarp, but the family member said it was their understanding that the vehicle involved was the white Hyundai. The vehicle was on its roof as it was removed on a flatbed truck and some or all of the tires were missing, possibly as a result of the fire. The family member said it may also have been wrapped in a secondary tarp underneath when it was removed, which could explain why it appeared to be red.

Police have yet to confirm many of the details around the catastrophic crash. 

Barrie police communications co-ordinator Jennett Mays said there was no new information to release on Tuesday. She said details will be released as updates become available. 

Police escorted family members to the crash scene on Monday, but they were not allowed to take photos, according to the family member.

Shortly after noon on Monday, police at the crash scene moved people back down the road, away from the construction zone and barricades, saying that a drone was coming in to survey the scene and they wanted the area cleared.