4 of 5 victims killed in fiery crash near Kalamazoo ID’d

Comstock Township fatal crash dashcam
Police arrive on scene of a fiery crash in Comstock Township that killed 5 people (Kalamazoo Township Police via Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office/September 2, 2017)


COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Four of the five people who were killed in a fiery crash early Saturday morning just east of Kalamazoo have been identified.

The driver, 15-year-old Cortavian Murphy — who due to his age did not yet have a driver’s license — and a passenger, Jaquerious Hegler, were identified by Cortavian’s mother.

Late Sunday afternoon, Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas confirmed two other passengers as Deztanee Cobb, 17, and Marshawn Williams, 15. The fifth victim has not yet been identified.

The crash happened around 12:43 a.m. Saturday on E. Main Street, east of Sprinkle Road in Comstock Township.

Kalamazoo Township police say an officer parked on Fenimore Avenue near the E. Main Street intersection watched as a car going an estimated 100 mph passed him heading east on Main Street. The officer turned on his lights and sirens and attempted to catch up to the car, but lost sight of it shortly after.

***WARNING: The dashcam video of the crash may be disturbing to some viewers***

According to dashcam video released shortly after the crash, the car passed the officer parked on Fenimore Avenue at 12:42 a.m. The video’s timestamp reads an hour earlier, at 11:42 p.m.; however, investigators say it was an hour behind for some reason.

By the time the officer pulled on to E. Main Street and turned on his lights and siren, the car was already out of sight. Seven seconds after initiating his siren, the officer is heard on the video saying, “I’m trying to catch up to it.”

About 15 seconds after the radio communication, he turned off the lights and siren and continued eastbound. Undersheriff Matyas told 24 Hour News 8 the officer continued given the dangerous speed the car was traveling.

The officer arrived at the intersection of Sprinkle Rd. and E. Main St. at 12:43 a.m., where dashcam video shows the car had already crashed and was on fire.

The distance between where the car past the officer and where it crashed is approximately 1.5 miles. Matyas told 24 Hour News 8 that all five victims were killed on impact.

Sunday night, 24 Hour News 8 spoke with Cortavian Murphy’s girlfriend, Kamarey Williams, who said they’d been dating more than a year. She said Cortavian was taking driver’s education and wasn’t sure what caused the crash or why he was driving so fast.

Kamarey Williams with her late boyfriend, Cortavaian Murphy. (undated photo)

She believes it may have been peer pressure.

“Think about him every day,” she said. “It’s not something that’s going to ever go away. He’s going to forever be in my heart. Every day and I’m going to keep pushing to make him proud because I know he would want me to do be happy and proud and doing what I’m supposed to do.”

24 Hour News 8 also spoke with the mother of Deztanee Cobb on Sunday.

Tracey Taylor said her daughter was entering her senior year and was dual-enrolled at Kalamazoo Central High School and Kalamazoo Community College taking AP classes. Cobb also had two varsity letters in swimming and played softball, but couldn’t play sports her senior year due to an injury.

Taylor said Cobb just lost two friends who committed suicide last year and her sister, who died from childhood diabetes, adding that her daughter went to counseling to get through that tough year and that she wanted to be a child psychologist.

Deztanee Cobb (undated photo)

Taylor also said Cobb, who she described as “loyal, loving and empathetic,” mentioned she was going to a party Friday night but it wasn’t alarmed when her daughter didn’t come home because she thought she was just staying a friend’s house overnight.

Funeral arrangements for the victims have not yet been announced.

A Kalamazoo Public Schools spokesperson told 24 Hour News 8 grief counselors will be made available as needed.

The crash remains under investigation by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.

***Editor’s note:  An earlier version of this story listed Cortavian as Corravion, based on confirmation by relatives. However, the sheriff’s office identified the teenager as Cortavian Murphy. The sheriff’s office also updated the spelling of Deztanee Cobb’s name. Our story has been updated to reflect those changes.